Saturday, September 19, 2009

Conservatives Ask - What Recession? What Health Care Crisis?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, declaring last week that Texas is recession proof said, "... someone had put a report out that the first state that's coming out of the recession is going to be the state of Texas ... I said, 'We're in one?'" (video left)

Paul Burka of the Texas Monthly: "This gaffe is going to stick. ... You cannot be callous and cavalier when people are losing their jobs, [their health insurance] and their homes. I don't care how ideological the Republican base is. ... Everybody knows someone who is suffering in these times."
The Labor Department reported last week that 42 states lost jobs in August, up from 29 in July, with the biggest net payroll cuts coming in Texas, Michigan, Georgia and Ohio.
Texas lost 62,200 jobs as its unemployment rate rose to 8% in August for the first time in 22 years. The state's leisure, construction and manufacturing industries were hardest hit, losing 35,500 jobs.
The Labor Department report shows jobs remain scarce even as most analysts believe the economy is pulling out of the worst recession since the 1930s. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said earlier this week that the recovery isn't likely to be rapid enough to reduce unemployment for some time. The jobless rate nationwide is expected to peak above 10% next year, from its current 9.7%.

Back in late July we posted that Gov. Perry, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Senator John Cornyn, Congressman Sam Johnson and every Republican elected official in Texas made headlines for months pronouncing that President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) economic stimulus plan was unneeded and unwelcome in Texas.
Gov. Perry, the top Republican in Texas, proclaimed that federal money from Washington is so onerous to "all" Texans that Texans might rise up in revolt and secede from the United States, by invoking the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, rather than accept "Washington money."
In March, Gov. Perry rejected $555 million in federal stimulus funds to fund unemployment benefits. By July, Perry was forced to ask the federal government for a $170 million loan to cover unemployment insurance. The state is expected to request a total of $650 million to fund unemployment insurance, around $100 million more than Perry originally rejected.

In Texas, the ARRA stimulas is expected to save or create 269,000 jobs over the next two years. The plan also includes provisions to help both employed and unemployed Texans. Nearly 8.2 million workers will receive the Making Work Pay tax cut of up to $1,000, and 677,000 unemployed workers will receive an additional $100 in unemployment benefits per month. In addition, the plan includes funding to help unemployed workers pay for COBRA coverage. []
On the issue of health insurance reform Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) also threatens 10th Amendment secession. [Star-Telegram] Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Senator John Cornyn, Congressman Sam Johnson and every Republican elected official in Texas have again lined up with Gov. Perry to reject the idea that Texans need health insurance reform.

According to facts given in a The Dallas Morning News article, Texas may need health insurance reform more than any other state:
"[Even after removing illegal immigrants from the numbers] Texas virtually leads the nation in percentage of residents without health insurance, according to both conservative and liberal researchers.

Only 49.5 percent of [Texas] residents were covered by employer-sponsored insurance, in a two-year average ending in 2008, compared with 58.5 percent nationwide, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated this month. Between 1996 and 2006, the cost of family coverage for private sector workers in Texas increased 86 percent, while incomes increased by less than 9 percent, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which finances health care research and supports universal health coverage.

Compared with the rest of the nation, the Texas economy relies heavily on small businesses and relatively low wages. So although most of the state's uninsured live in households with people who work, fewer employers offer coverage, and fewer employees can afford it.

For an average family of four in Dallas, medical care and health insurance this year will cost nearly $17,000. Of that, 41 percent – almost $7,000 – will be paid by the employee, MHBT found in a survey of 139 local businesses. "
Texas has the highest percentage of those without health insurance in the entire country. A Families USA report released in March found that the number of uninsured in Texas throughout 2007 and 2008 is around 9.3 million:
The report went further to say that 7.5 million Texans were uninsured for six months or more during that same time period and about 82.6 percent, were in working families, either working full or part-time.
An estimated 5,550 Texans are losing their health coverage each week, Families USA says in another report out in July 2009. “Rising like a deadly tide, escalating health care costs will have caused 866,580 Texans to lose their health coverage between January 2008 and December 2010,” the organization says.
The average health-care coverage for the average family now costs $13,375, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's 2009 Employer Benefits Survey. Over the past decade, premiums have increased by 138 percent. And if the trend continues, by 2019 the average family plan will cost $30,083.

About 160 million Americans receive health coverage through their employers. In general, the employer picks up 73 percent of the tab. This seems like a good deal. In reality, that money comes out of wages.

As Ezekiel Emanuel, who advises Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag on health-care policy, has pointed out, health-care premiums have risen by 300 percent over the past 30 years (and that's after adjusting for inflation). Corporate profit per employee has soared by 200 percent. Hourly earnings for workers, adjusted for inflation, have fallen. The wage increases have been consumed by health-care costs.

In a new study, "Health Insurance and Mortality in U.S. Adults," published in the online edition of the American Journal of Public Health, Harvard-based researchers found that uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993. The researchers estimate that lack of health insurance causes 44,789 excess deaths annually which are hight than previous estimate of 18,000 annual deaths published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2002.

“I can’t imagine that anyone from Texas who cares about this state would vote for Obama Care. I don’t care whether you’re Democrat or Republican,” Perry has said. Gov. Perry has no need to worry - Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Senator John Cornyn, Congressman Sam Johnson and every conservative Republican elected official in Texas stand united in their support of giving the private insurance industry a free hand to increase fees annually for increasingly reduced health coverage insurance policies sold to only those most likely to not get sick.
Though luck if you are unemployed and without health insurance. If you are employed, though luck, if neither you nor your employer can afford to buy health insurance coverage. Though luck, if you have insurance, but your insurance company cancels your policy as soon as are diagnosed with cancer or some other expensive to treat disease. Though luck trying to buy insurance, if you have a pre-exisiting health condition. And, tough luck, if your big corporate employer moves your job to China or India, where the government provides health coverage, to cut its overhead cost of U.S. employee private health insurance.

Rachel Maddow: From Fear To Eternity
On Health Reform - 09/21/09

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