The 20 Million People Question

President Trump often talks about what a disaster Obamacare is. This is a healthcare blog that cites “data” – the one thing usually missing from his speeches. Numbers. Or numbers in context. Numbers with details.

On most any topic, Trump usually talks from his gut — visceral comments, “fantastic” “terrible” or, yes, a “disaster.” But as President, you gotta ditch the gut hyperbole.  As Trump speaks to Congress tonight, he is likely  stray not far from the script: and  talk numbers around proposed budget cuts (the environment, anyone?), or increases, (the military), or even some reflection of stability (Medicare and Social Security).  Will he lay out enough data  for Americans to figure out his healthcare plan as he vows to overhaul Obamacare?

Just recently, Trump added a new word to his lexicon: healthcare reform is “complicated.” Unspoken: lots of numbers. Sen. Bernie Sanders almost gagged.

Trump may or may not spout detailed figures tonight when he discusses healthcare reform, but the most important  one is this: 20 million more people have health insurance as a result of Obamacare.

As the AMA (American Medical Association) Wire’s Kevin B. O’Reilly  wrote: “For America’s physicians, 20.4 million is not just an abstract figure. It represents their patients—living with illness or working to prevent it—who now have health insurance coverage to support their care.”

“And as the nation’s elected representatives consider changes to the health system, it is a number no one wants to see go in the wrong direction,” he added.

What direction will we go in healthcare?

Recently, Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association and Marilyn Tavenner, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, focused on the same question at a Nashville Health Care Council panel discussion. That talk had one major topic: Medicaid.

A “proposal to transition Medicaid funding to block grants, was a recurring theme throughout the discussion,” the council said in a statement.  

“So much of this is yet to be defined,” Pollack was quoted as saying. “Our concern continues to be making sure patients have coverage. We support giving flexibility to the states, but our fear is that block grants or per capita caps could be a vehicle that further constrains a program that is already severely underfunded.”

Even with Obamacare and its resulting 20 million more people having access to healthcare, the AMA Wire’s O’Reilly wrote that there are still problems if the existing law stays the way it has been. For one thing, there is a need to “stabilize  the individual insurance market and improve choices and options for patients,” he wrote.

Among the problems, O’Reilly added: “Many families are not eligible to get premium and cost-sharing subsidies to purchase coverage on the ACA exchanges because of a so-called ‘family glitch’ where a father or mother is only offered employer coverage as individual and not for the family,” he said. Then,  the family is not then eligible for coverage through an ACA exchange,” O’Reilly wrote.

This “family glitch” has affected an estimated 10.5 million adults and children, according to HHS, O’Reilly wrote.

Millions of people. Will the President talk numbers? More numbers, more question marks.

— Joe Cantlupe




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