Health Care Reform Is Working: National Health Expenditures Reach Historic Low

Nancy-Ann DeParle:

Today, the CMS Office of the Actuary released its report on how much the United States spends on health care now and in the future. The report shows a 3.9 percent growth in health spending in 2010 – an historic low. Overall Medicare cost growth dropped from 7.9 to 4.5 percent between 2009 and 2010. This slow-down occurred at the same time that many seniors with Medicare received cheaper prescription drugs. According to the report, private health spending has and will continue to be low in the next few years. And the report estimates that private benefit spending growth per enrollee will be 3 percent this year, rather than 4.7 percent thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act’s policy that allows young adults to stay on their parent’s plan.

The report concludes that:

Average annual growth in national health spending is expected to be 0.1 percentage point higher (5.8 percent) under current law compared to projected average growth prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (5.7 percent) for 2010 through 2020. Simultaneously, by 2020, thirty million Americans are expected to gain health insurance coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

The bottom line from the report is clear: more Americans will get coverage and save money and health expenditure growth will remain virtually the same. But the report doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Affordable Care Act creates changes to the health care system that typically don’t show up on an accounting table. We know these new provisions will save money for the health care system, even if today’s report doesn’t credit these strategies with reducing costs. These provisions include:

The Administration’s Partnership for Patients: Better Care, Lower Costs, a new private-publicpartnership to achieve two goals: reduce preventable hospital-acquired conditions by 40 percent and reduce hospital readmissions by 20 percent between 2010 and 2013. Over 2,000 hospitals as well as employers, physicians, nurses, and patient advocates have committed to these goals which, over the next ten years, could reduce costs to Medicare by about $50 billion and help put our nation on the path toward a more sustainable health care system.
Support for voluntary Accountable Care Organizations that make it easier for health care providers to work together to coordinate care for an individual patient across care settings – including doctor’s offices, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. The Affordable Care Act rewards ACOs that lower health care costs while providing high quality care, and could generate as much as $960 million in Medicare savings over three years.
Bundled payment programs that will reward doctors and hospitals for working together to provide higher quality care to patients rather than bill for each individual procedure or test.
Demonstrations launched by the new Innovation Center that will build and test models that will save money for both Medicare and the private sector, and then expand the use of the models that work.
Important investments in programs that save money over the long-term like prevention and wellness programs.

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AND, Opposition To Health Reform Falls, Majority Want To Keep It Or Expand It

A new health care tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that as the opposition to the Affordable Care Act has fallen (from 46 percent to 43 percent), a majority of Americans (53 percent) want lawmakers to expand the law or keep it, and 46 percent say they are still confused by it.

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“President Obama to announce a staggering 65% increase in fuel-efficiency standards”

No matter what, he keeps going:

President Barack Obama has struck a deal with the nation’s automakers to raise mandatory fuel-efficiency standards to 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025, a staggering 65% increase, National Journal reports.
The new figure represents a compromise between environmentalists, who had asked the government to raise the law from the present 35.5 mpg to 62 mpg, and the automakers, who pushed for 45 mpg.
One auto industry official confidentially told National Journal that the only reason they were able to strike a deal with the administration is that there will be a review in 2018 to re-assess whether the standards still made sense.
“If they’re too low, they’ll be addressed upwards. If they’re too high, they’ll be addressed downwards,” he said.

DADT is dead. One more campaign promise kept.

Hi guys,

I don’t know if you remember, but last month, when PBO had that big LGBT fundraiser in NYC, he said that “in a matter of weeks” the Pentagon will certify that the military is ready to end ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ once and for all. Well, “in a matter of weeks” means “in a matter of weeks”, and today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the official recommendation , and in 60 days this awful, awful law will be dead and buried, never to be seen again (Unless characters like Dan Choi and the rest of the fake-progressives will convince people, yet again, not to vote next year, and then they’ll just deserve whatever comes). 

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Today’s schedule: 

9:30 AM
The President and The Vice President receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
11:00 AM
The President participates in a Town Hall on the on-going efforts to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction
College Park—Ritchie Coliseum, University of Maryland
1:35 PM
The President meets with Prime Minister Key of New Zealand
Oval Office
2:20 PM
The President and Prime Minister Key deliver statements to the press
Oval Office
2:45 PM
The President meets with Secretary of Defense Panetta and Admiral Mullen
Oval Office
Closed Press
3:30 PM
The President meets with Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Mrs. Eikenberry
Oval Office

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I have to say that with all due respect to the proven political skills and the enormous experience of a guy like Lawrence O’Donnell – I don’t think he gets this president the way he think. IMO, anyone who really know this man, understand that he’s not engaging in the usual Kabuki in this deficit circus – He is dead serious about doing a big deal, as he shows again in this column he wrote for USA Today:

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….That’s why people in both parties have suggested that the best way to take on our deficit is with a more balanced approach. Yes, we should make serious spending cuts. But we should also ask the wealthiest individuals and biggest corporations to pay their fair share through fundamental tax reform. Before we stop funding clean energy research, we should ask oil companies and corporate jet owners to give up the tax breaks that other companies don’t get. Before we ask college students to pay more, we should ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries. Before we ask seniors to pay more for Medicare, we should ask people like me to give up tax breaks they don’t need and never asked for.

The middle class hasn’t just borne the brunt of this recession; they’ve been dealing with higher costs and stagnant wages for more than a decade now. It’s just not right to ask them to pay the whole tab — especially when they’re not the ones who caused this mess in the first place.

Raising revenues: a bipartisan position

A balanced deficit deal that includes some new revenues isn’t just a Democratic position. It’s a position that has been taken by everyone from Warren Buffett to Bill O’Reilly. It’s a position that was taken this week by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, who worked together on a promising plan of their own. And it’s been the position of every Democratic and Republican leader who has worked to reduce the deficit in their time, from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton.

There will be plenty of haggling over the details of all these plans in the days ahead. But right now, we have the opportunity to do something big and meaningful. This debate shouldn’t just be about avoiding the catastrophe of not paying our bills and defaulting on our debt. That’s the least we should do. This debate offers the chance to put our economy on stronger footing, restore a sense of fairness in our country, and secure a better future for our children. I want to seize that opportunity, and ask Americans of both parties and no party to join me in that effort.

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West Wing Week:

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Wall Street Reform first anniversary:

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This must be one of my fave Michelle Obama photos. It moved me to tears. Just look at the variety of faces and colors. Sometimes a picture is worth even more than 1000 words. Well done, Samantha Appleton.

 


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And, thank youChristine for this hilarious shopping bag:

The president is throwing someone under the bus again (Updated with Video)

I’m just not really sure who got stabbed this time, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

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President Obama support the Respect For Marriage Act – the bill to repeal DOMA

 

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The president has “long called for a legislative appeal for the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which continues to have a real impact on families,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at Tuesday’s briefing. He said the president “is proud” to support the Respect For Marriage Act, “which would take the Defense of Marriage Act off the books for once and for all.”

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

In February, the Obama administration announced that the Department of Justice will no longer defend DOMA in court.

On Wednesday the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the new bill, which would repeal all three sections of DOMA — which federally defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman — including section 1, which is the name; section 2, which instructs states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states; and section 3, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing legally performed same-sex marriages.

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Couple of good economic news:

Housing starts rise 14.6% to five-month high

Retailers’ weekly sales rise 4.5%

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Here’s the president’s statement about the budget negotiations from earlier today.

No Change Is Too Small To Matter

Hi guys,

Two things very few people will know of, but both are just great IMO.

1. For the first time in many many many years, families of troops who commit suicide in war, will recieve letter of acknowledgment from the president.

(CBS News) NEW YORK – Most families who lose a loved one in the war zones receive a letter of condolence from the President of the United States. But there are a few who do not receive this honor. It’s long standing policy – going back many years – that troops who commit suicide in war do not get the president’s acknowledgment.

The CBS Evening News first reported on this last week, and tonight we have learned the White House is changing the policy. CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano brings us up to date with the father who led the fight to change the rules.

“I had doubts – many, many doubts,” Gregg Keesling said. “We are very pleased.”

Last week, Keesling got the call he’d waited nearly two years to receive from the White House.

He learned his family’s long wait for acknowledgement from the commander-in-chief was almost over.
“My oldest son came down and we had a hug and it was very emotional,” Keesling said. “It was a very good moment that this has been worth it.”

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2. Justice Department Sues Nation’s Largest Mortgage Insurance Provider for Discrimination Against Women on Paid Maternity Leave

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it has sued the Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC), the nation’s largest mortgage insurance company, and two of its underwriters, Elgina Cunningham and Kelly Kane, for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against women on paid maternity leave.
The suit, filed on July 5, 2011, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleges that MGIC required women on paid maternity leave to return to work before the company would insure their mortgages. Most mortgage lenders require applicants seeking to borrow more than 80 percent of their home’s value to obtain mortgage insurance, meaning MGIC’s denials to women on maternity leave could cost those women the opportunity to obtain a home loan.
“No woman should be denied the opportunity to receive a mortgage loan simply because she has just given birth,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our nation’s fair housing laws prohibit this kind of discrimination, and the Justice Department is committed to aggressive enforcement of those laws.”

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Any #ObamaLovers around? :)

And, don’t forget to #AskObama.

Homophobic President Fights DOMA In Court

Obviously, it’s not as important as PBO actually attending Rachel Maddow’s wedding, but hey, it’s something:

DOJ: Court Should Find DOMA Unconstitutional

Today, the Department of Justice filed a brief in federal court employee Karen Golinski’s federal court challenge, supporting her lawsuit seeking access to equal health benefits for her wife and arguing strongly that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional in terms unparalleled in previous administration statements.
In a brief filed on behalf of the Office of Personnel Management and other federal defendants, DOJ acknowledged the U.S. government’s “significant and regrettable role” in discrimination in America against gays and lesbians.

The summary of the DOJ argument that Golinski’s case should not be dismissed begins simply: “Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. Section 7 (‘DOMA’), unconstitutionally discriminates.”

Unlike in other cases where DOJ has stopped defending DOMA in accordance with President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision that Section 3 of DOMA — the federal definition of marriage — is unconstitutional, DOJ lawyers today made an expansive case in a 31-page filing that DOMA is unconstitutional.

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Michael Tomasky is just awesome.

Why the GOP Loves the Debt

Republicans portray themselves as champions of fiscal responsibility. But as Michael Tomasky argues, they need the debt to push through their radical and unpopular agenda.

/// Go read it and spread it!

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Wonkette: Mitt Romney Visits Abandoned Factory To Spread His Message of Doom

OH HEY, MITTENS. There he is, our weird stale friend Mitt Romney, hanging out in an empty field in front of an old, abandoned factory building. Is that the safest thing for a rich old white guy? No, but that is his campaign strategy! After cruising around the bombed-out parts of Detroit saying it was proof that the auto bailout was a total disaster for everybody, Romney is doing his production of “America is Terrible Part II” over in Pennsylvania, standing outside a shuttered factory where Obama once gave a stimulus speech in order to prove that factories everywhere hated Obama’s miserable stimulus dollars.

Predictably, the factory shutdown was not because of the stimulus, but Mittens just really wanted to stand in the same spot where Obama stood, just for a second, so he could also feel like president.

From the Washington Post:

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski (D) said in an interview that Obama’s policies did not lead to the factory’s closure. The plant reportedly had longtime financial troubles.

“I don’t think Mitt Romney should be criticizing our community and this economy, because he has no clue why this plant closed — and it had nothing to do with President Obama,” Pawlowski said.

We are excited to see which terrifying place Mitt visits next and what Obama policy he blames for it. A trailer park full of children with rickets because of health care reform? A school full of illiterate seventh graders because of support for education funding? That would make an excellent third part for a “trilogy of doom.”