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Letter to the Editor: Curmudgeon's healthcare claims ignore the facts (OPINION)

August 21, 2012

To The Editor:

A few weeks back I wrote about Mr. August’s “misinformation” about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) At that time I had indicated that I had not had time to research many of Mr. August’s claims. I will get to those in a minute.
First, let me address an amusing incident on one of our local “talk radio” shows that deals directly with the misinformation about the PPACA. The incident (on July 11) involved that pillar of honesty and integrity, Rhode Island’s own Mr. Vincent Cianci. Although I do not listen to these shows, the incident was covered by the state’s largest daily newspaper and PolitiFact.com.
Apparently Mr. Cianci was grilling Mr. Anthony Gemma a candidate for Congress in the first district. Mr. Cianci demanded to know if Mr. Gemma was in favor of the PPACA “….that says when you sell your house now you have to pay a 3.8 percent tax. When you sell the house. Are you for that?”
Rather than let Mr. Gemma formulate a response, Mr Cianci kept repeating the claim about the 3.8 percent tax. There is a 3.8 percent sales tax on the sale of a home, BUT there some very important qualifications that Mr. Cianci conveniently neglected. First, the tax only applies to an individual with an income greater than $200,000 ($250,000 for couples). This rule eliminates 97 percent of tax returns. Second, this tax applies only to the profit form the sale, not the sale price. Also there is the exclusion from the tax of the first $250,000 of profit for individuals ($500,000 for couples). These are facts that Mr Cianci neglected to mention or give Mr. Gemma a chance to respond to. Could it be that while most all Rhode Islanders would not have to pay this tax, Mr. Cianci would? You think. One more reason that “talk radio” is less reliable for factual information than anonymous e-mails.
Back to Mr. August’s “misinformation”.
In his article “Health care decision will degrade quality of care” he stated “Keep in mind that the Obama administration has granted over 1,400 exemptions from the employer mandate, most of them to labor unions”.
I am sure that your readers would want to know the facts on this claim.
First, these exemptions are not to the PPACA, but rather to a specific provision of the act. Although it is not widely known, most health insurance plans have an annual cap on benefits. A good plan would have an annual cap of $1,000,000. However there are plans with caps as low as $2,000. Although the $1,000,000 seems like a lot, however, if you have a very serious illness such as cancer, this limit can be exceeded. It is estimated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that 1 in 10 cancer patients exceed this limit. After that you have to find additional insurance (good luck) or private pay. The PPACA phases out policy limits over a period of years. This year the policy limit must be at least $750,000 to be in compliance with the law. Many employers complained that this would put an undue burden on their employees or they would to drop coverage. In response, HHS set up a system of wavers to this provision of the law until 2014 when insurance exchanges and other provisions of the law come into effect.
Of the 1,400 exemptions to this provision of the law 27 (1.9 percent) have been given to labor unions. Gee, that hardly seems like “most of them to labor unions”. Even if you include plans that are jointly managed by unions and employers it is still only 22 percent of the waivers, still a long way from most.
There is one other point that Mr. August made that requires some clarification. He said “A fifteen member commission, none of whom have to be medical professionals, will be appointed to run the whole program.” This is the great Pat Boone lie. Yes it is the same nice, clean cut Pat Boone the singer from the 50s … telling us lies. I’m shocked.
Apparently Mr. Boone is a spokesperson a group called 60 Plus that is opposed to the PPACA. The one thing that Mr. Boone and Mr. August are correct about is that there is a 15 member commission known as the “Independent Payment Advisory Board” (IPAB).
The rest of what they say is off the mark, I quote from FactCheck.org. article “Pat Boone Misleads Seniors”.
“The IPAB is tasked with finding ways to reduce the growth of Medicare spending. Its voting members won’t be bureaucrats; according to the health care law (see page 502) they will be doctors and medical professionals, economists and health care management experts, and representatives for consumers and seniors.”
The law also states that the IPAB’s proposals “shall not include any recommendation to ration care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums……(See page 490).”
By the way Pat Boone’s TV ad received a “Pants on Fire” finding from PolitiFact.com.
It is amazing to me the amount of misinformation about the health care law that is out their on the internet, talk radio and Faux News. It is even more amazing to me the number of people gullible to believe this stuff. More to come on another day.
Philip R Morin
North Kingstown, RI

Source 
Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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