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Collins vs. The Consumer

This week, in an interview with WBFO, Republican candidate for Congress Chris Collins suggested that the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is exactly like Canada’s single-payer Medicare system.

While Obamacare is many things, many of which are open to debate and criticism, one thing it decidedly is not is anything resembling what Canadians enjoy.

Yes, enjoy. In a recent poll, 82.5 percent of Canadians indicated that they were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their healthcare system. Eighty-six percent wanted the current system strengthened through public rather than private initiatives. By contrast, a 2007 Gallup poll found that only 57 percent of Americans were satisfied with whatever private or public insurance they had. By contrast, consider our own domestic single-payer plan, Medicare, available only to seniors: Whereas in 2007, 45 percent of Anericans with expensive private coverage reported problems with access to care, and 35 percent reported problems with billing, only 18 percent of Medicare recipients reported access problems, and only 14 percent reported any billing issues. A 2010 Suffolk University poll revealed that 94 percent of Medicare recipients are satisfied with their socialist, Canadian-style, single-payer plan.

Collins went on to say that he hopes that Mitt Romney becomes president, and that Republicans maintain their majority in the House of Representatives and add three Senate seats so that they can “completely” dismantle and repeal Obamacare. In its place, Collins suggested insurer competition across state lines, and minimizing injured patients’ access to the courts to seek redress for medical malpractice, neither of which would put a ding in the overwhelming cost of healthcare in this country.

Here’s a question that went unasked in the intervew with Collins: What would result from an immediate repeal of Obamacare?

Here are the provisions that have already become active:

• Expands the FDA’s ability to approve more generic drug, making for more competition in the market to drive down prices.

• Increases he rebates on drugs people get through Medicare, so drugs cost less.

• Establishes of a nonprofit group that the government doesn’t directly control, PCORI, to study different kinds of treatments to see what works better and is the best use of money.

• Requires that chain restaurants like McDonalds display how many calories are in all of their foods, so people can have an easier time making choices to eat healthy.

• Creates a “high-risk pool” for people with pre-existing conditions. Basically, this is a way to slowly ease into getting rid of “pre-existing conditions” altogether. For now, people who already have health issues that would be considered “pre-existing conditions” can still get insurance, but at different rates than people without them.

• Forbids insurance companies from discriminating based on a person’s disability, or on having been the victim of domestic abuse in the past. (Yes, insurers really did deny coverage for that.)

• Creates a new 10 percent tax on indoor tanning booths.

• Forbids health insurance companies from telling customers that they won’t get any more coverage because they have hit a “lifetime limit.” Basically, if someone has paid for health insurance, that company can’t tell that person that he’s used that insurance too much throughout his life so they won’t cover him anymore. They can’t do this for lifetime spending, and they’re limited in how much they can do this for yearly spending.

• Allows children to continue to be covered by their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26.

• Eliminates “pre-existing conditions” exclusions for kids under the age of 19.

• Limits insurers’ ability to change the amount customers have to pay for their plans.

• Helps close the “Medicare gap” by paying rebates to make up for the extra money they would otherwise have to spend.

• Prohibits insurers from dropping customers once they get sick.

• Requires insurers to be transparent about fees. (No more vague “administrative fees.”)

• Requires insurers to have an appeals process for when they turn down a claim, so customers have some manner of recourse other than a lawsuit when they’re turned down.

• Increases anti-fraud funding, and new ways to stop fraud are created.

• Extends Medicare to smaller hospitals.

• Requires that Medicare patients with chronic illnesses be monitored more thoroughly.

• Reduces the costs for some companies that handle benefits for the elderly.

• Creates a new website providing insurance and health information (

• Created a credit program that will make it easier for businesses to invest in new ways to treat illness by paying half the cost of the investment. (This program was temporary. It has ended.)

• Limits how much of the money an insurer makes can be profit, to make sure they’re not price-gouging customers.

• Limits what type of insurance accounts can be used to pay for over-the-counter drugs without a prescription. (Basically, your insurer isn’t paying for the aspirin you bought for that hangover.)

• Requires employers to list the benefits they provided to employees on their tax forms.

• Requires that any new health plan provide preventive care (mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.) without requiring any sort of co-pay or charge.

What the Affordable Care Act really amounts to is a consumer protection act. While Collins and his ilk will call this “a job-killing tax on the middle class” or something, it really amounts to a prohibition against insurance companies engaging in predatory practices against its ratepayers. It provides better protections for consumers.

Why does Chris Collins want to repeal all of the consumer protections that have gone into effect?

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