Saturday, October 24, 2009

More from the forum

Robichaux: Employees will pay 10 percent more across the country next year. We cannot sustain the rates of growth we are experiencing now. Healthcare is one of the things forcing our economic problems. We will pay one way or another.

Landrieu: In 1993 68 percent of small businesses offered some kind of insurance. Today it is down to 39 percent and falling because rates are going through the roof. One employee gets ill, all rates go up. That is not fair. We are trying to create exchanges to help eliminate that so that we can create access to low cost care just like big companies. This is very important in Louisiana because of the number of small businesses.

Audience: Joyce Landry: What is the reason that members of Congress take part in an elite healthcare program paid for by taxpayers?

Senator Landrieu: I am a co-sponsor of the bill that would provide the same kind of coverage that all federal employees are in. This is the Wyden Bill. Every federal worker has 15-30 choices. It is private insurance with a 70-30 pay split (employer/employee). Should we expand Medicaid to 130 percent of poverty? Should we subsidize system like members of Congress have? I like the choice model. Others like the expansion of Medicaid.

Question: How can average citizen determine who is paying for all those ads?

Senator Landrieu: All the names sound alike and that's intentional. All have to have their donors listed and there should be some registration to let them know. AARP is pretty good. American Nurses Association. AMA. Look to nonpartisan groups.

Question: Will providers be taxed for services?

Prudhomme: Look at what is going on in hospitals, you are paying for the care that people who could not pay for their care. You are being taxed now.

Landrieu: One of the way we support healthcare is in the tax code. We now give tax deductions for that. We are subsidizing these high end plans. Anything over a certain limit might be beyond the level of the subsidy. The best plans are not necessarily the most expensive plan. We have to pay for this bill up front. May cost it up front, but over time it pays for itself. That is what we are trying to accomplish. Will cost up front but save long-term.

Rolfes: question: Worked in oilfield in the early 70s. Had full insurance for lifetime after retirement. Will company drop me?

Senator Landrieu: these bills will not address that in any way. Might lose some of the subsidy. Contracts should stand. When companies go bankrupt, those plans go with them. Not honored. But these laws will not affect those plans.

Rolfes: What is in store for those on Medicaid in this transition?

Landrieu: Trying to keep Medicare the way it is. Keep Medicaid the way it is, but expand it to 130 percent of poverty level  with the Federal government picking up 95 percent of the costs. Want to see subsidies for businesses under 25 employees to make insurance affordable.

Pennsylvania Life Insurance company reps: If do not enroll, what will happen to the penalty? Amnesty?

Landrieu: Not sure if there is a grace period in the Senate bill. Not going into effect immediately.

Complicated system. Not trying to change everything. But, working to improve the broken parts. Reform the private insurance markets by giving consumers better choices.

Closing statements:

Robichaux: Medical costs have been a problem for decades. Academic society late sixties wrote a paper on the price of prescription medicines. Celebrex and other drugs just as effective and cheaper. Marketing is the issue.

Prudhomme: We can get something done, I believe we can get healthcare that is affordable. I get excellent healthcare as a veteran. Affordable and accessible.

Senator: Thanks to the station and the Lafayette Democrats. If I could try to convince you of the importance of doing something, that would be it. The current system is unsustainable. Your premiums because you pay for those without insurance. No preventive care. No ability to catch things early. Some of it is good, but we are trying to fix the broken part, primarily the private insurance market. President is being criticized but he is trying to do the right thing. We can compromise on some of these things and do the right thing.

That's a wrap!

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