Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shilling for Obamacare

Today's New York Times publishes a number of White House press releases hard-hitting stories on Obamacare in today's paper. The brazenness of their partiality is astonishing even for the Times. Let's go through them one by one:

Sometimes lost in the partisan clamor about the new health care law is the profound relief it is expected to bring to hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been stricken first by disease and then by a Darwinian insurance system.

On Thursday, the six-month anniversary of the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a number of its most central consumer protections take effect, just in time for the midterm elections.

Starting now, insurance companies will no longer be permitted to exclude children because of pre-existing health conditions, which the White House said could enable 72,000 uninsured to gain coverage. Insurers also will be prohibited from imposing lifetime limits on benefits.

...As the political battle endures, those most immediately affected are welcoming the changes with collective relief, and hoping that their promise of security is real.
There is only one paragraph expressing any skepticism of the provisions, which is basically just a quote from John Boehner. The rest reads as though it were written by David Axelrod. This article is then accompanied by the following companion pieces:

Joe and Mary Thompson had agreed to adopt Emily before her birth in 1999, and it never occurred to them to back out when she was born with spina bifida. But that same year, their residential remodeling business in Overland Park, Kan., went under, prompting job changes that left the family searching for health coverage with a child who was uninsurable.

The insurers were willing to cover the Thompsons and their older daughter, but not Emily, who was later discovered to have mild autism as well, or her 13-year-old brother, who had a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder.

Starting Thursday, the insurers will not be able to do that, as the new health care law prohibits them from denying coverage to children under 19 because of pre-existing health conditions. In 2014, the change will extend to people of all ages.

“It really is a pinch-me moment,” said Mrs. Thompson, who is 50. “Could it possibly be, after all these years of fighting and jumping through hoops and trying to find the right place to help us out, that she could just be put on our policy with her sister and not be discriminated against any more?”

As a healthy couple in their mid-20s, Bill and Victoria Strong’s last concern when shopping for health insurance was a cap on lifetime benefits. Then Gwendolyn was born, and six months later was found to have spinal muscular atrophy Type I, a degenerative condition that typically kills its victims before age 2.

Suddenly, it became vital that their family policy, with Health Net of California, had a generous $5 million limit on benefits. With the help of hugely expensive care at their home in Santa Barbara, Calif. — ventilators, nebulizers, feeding tubes, suction machines — Gwendolyn has defied the odds to survive to nearly 3. And she has already consumed $2 million in care, about half of it from three hospitalizations in her first eight months.

“Anxiety was high,” said Mr. Strong, now 34, “because we were marching pretty quickly toward that $5 million cap. It was always in the back of my mind.”

Starting Thursday, the health care law prohibits lifetime caps, thereby extending coverage to the 20,400 people that the government estimates may exceed their limits each year. The law also begins to restrict annual limits on benefits, eliminating them fully in 2014.

For the Strongs, it means freedom from worry. “We know now that Gwendolyn will always have the quality of care that we promised her,” said Mr. Strong, the chief financial officer of an Internet venture company.

Once Lacey E. McLear turned 23 and aged out of her parents’ health insurance, she changed her route home from work to circumvent dangerous intersections. When she came down with the flu, she continued to wait tables (“I know, it’s gross,” she conceded) because she could not afford a doctor and could not skip work without a note. At Christmas, she strung lights only halfway up the tree, to avoid climbing a ladder.

But soon, Ms. McLear, now 24 and still a college-degreed waitress in Richmond, Va., will be able to return to her parents’ policy thanks to the health law provision that requires insurers to offer coverage to children until their 26th birthday. Ms. McLear said she was angry that it might not be until Feb. 1, when her mother’s policy renews, as is allowed under the law. But the sense of relief is already palpable, she said, because she can then seek treatment, and perhaps surgery, for a bum knee that aches under the strain of trays heavy with pasta.
The parents of children who will no longer have access to policies that are being withdrawn from the market in the face of these new regulations could apparently not be reached for comment.

No comments: