Health Reform Roadshow: Don’t let them fool you, Cadillac health care won’t be free

Everyone wants “Cadillac” health care. The “health care reform” bill passed by Congress this year, "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," claims to be able to provide it. However, anyone who can pay for “Cadillac” plans themselves – as well as their employers - will be taxed to pay for those who can’t. Not only that, but those of us who have chosen to save our own money while paying for high deductible Health Savings Accounts or choosing plans with less coverage, will be taxed and forced to pay for Cadillac plans, whether we want them or not. The tax incentives and plans under the PPACA reward the wrong behavior and punish what should be encouraged.

Along with about 100 other people, I attended the "Health Reform Road Show," which took place at the Shertz, Texas Community Center on August 2. As far as I could tell, I was the only doctor present, as well as the only small-government conservative. The Road Show was put on by the Center for Public Policy Priorities and sponsored by the New Braunfels/Schertz/Cibolo and San Antonio MoveOn Councils, The United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, the La Fe Policy Research and Education Center, the University (of Texas) Health System, and the NAACP of San Antonio. Yes, your United Way donation helped pay for this meeting and the free chicken salad sandwiches that were provided for those in attendance.

Stacie Pogue of the CPPP did a good job of explaining some of the highlights of the new health care payment reform bill but there were a few problems in the presentation. I was impressed by her fairly even presentation, with just a bit of bias showing through. Ms. Pogue glossed over both the planned physician payment cuts and the increased taxes and the involvement of the IRS in collecting taxes to pay for the new health care bureaucracies and in confirming coverage. She claimed that the bulk of the new benefits to Medicare will be paid for by gradual decreases in payments to companies like Secure Horizons and Humana for the Medicare Advantage plans. There was no mention of the fines for employers who have more than 50 employees, if any of those employees or their family members qualify for Federal health care subsidies. She does not seem to connect increased health care costs to all of the increased bureaucracy, services and “no copay” and “no caps” required by the PPACA.

We learned that "undocumented workers" will not be eligible for the exchanges, the insurance subsidies or Medicaid. One lady was very upset that we were leaving ourselves open to flu epidemics because the government doesn't plan to pay for the vaccinations for illegal aliens. I would have liked to explain that if she gets her flu shot, she's safe from the epidemic. What she should worry about is the diseases for which there are no vaccinations, such as Dengue fever and Dengue hemorrhagic fever, which are increasing in Texas due to the number of illegal aliens who carry the virus across the border, spreading it to Texas mosquitoes and then, to Texans. The better solution would be to close our borders and discourage illegal, undocumented workers. After all, most of those illegal immigrants come from Mexico, where they have government universal access to health care.

One man was upset that the new bill is not truly "Universal Health Care" when he learned that some people might choose to pay a fine rather than obtain health care insurance under the law. Others were bothered by not being able to join the new preexisting condition Federal health care insurance plans if they are currently covered. The Federal law only covers people who are uninsured for the last 6 months.

No one questioned the new tax for health care for those singles and couples who make over $200,000 a year or the one on "unearned income," such as capital gains taxes. Ms. Pogue praised the new Long term care tax that will be deducted from our paychecks next year, unless we fill out the paper work to “opt out.” This insurance is supposed to “help keep us in our homes” as we age or get sick. However, it is not much help for people who are most likely to need it: people must pay into the insurance for 5 years before they are “vested” and able to qualify for payments. Those payments will be about $50 a day – not sufficient for in home care, in my opinion.

I was challenged (by a very rude woman who screamed at me and shook her finger in my face) for claiming that we will all subsidize the health care insurance exchanges that by law must have at least one plan that covers elective abortions. The bureaucracies that will be the exchanges will be paid for by Federal tax money in the form of grants and then eventually by a 2-3% or so fee (tax) placed on each and every health insurance policy that is sold.

Ms. Pogue made several comments about what a good deal the Federal subsidies were for the States and how much money the Federal government would be spending for the new healthcare benefits. She did not notice that, theoretically at least, We the People are the Federal government and those 50% of us who pay Federal taxes will pay for first dollar coverage of millions of people, and will see our taxes and our health care insurance costs go up. As science fiction writer Robert Heinlein wrote, “TANSTFL!” (“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” )



Beverly Nuckols you can't help yourself can you? In your articles to the Herald Zeitung you are always slinging mud and making inferences that border on a lie. I know you called my house this evening trying to pretend you called a pharmacy, the second time I didn’t answer. I’ll drop this subject if you remember there are phone records if you should try and deny it, so lets close the subject. 
Lying by mud slinging presumption: I'm not PASSIONATE about abortions. In fact it has to be the sadist situation in anyone’s life when a woman comes to the heart-wrenching conclusion this is her only solution; her only way out. Instead of saying that you don’t agree with my position, you chose to throw mud by stating as you put it, “I understand that you are passionately in favor of elective abortions”. As a matter of fact we have never had a conversation on that subject or any other. You don’t know me and we had never spoke until I signed you in at the health care road show. I don't stick my nose into someone else's business. Just because I don't believe in dictating to others what they should do, you presumed to know all about me! What if I said, I believe Beverly Nuckols is so passionate about stopping abortions was because she had one and has been dealing with it ever since. I don’t know that and I wouldn’t say that. But if I did I would be slinging mud and making allegations I had no knowledge of. In other words I would be lying. I noticed you avoided my question. If you’re so authoritative about someone not having an abortion are you willing to support his or her child? 
The Federal Government does not pay for abortions. Like every good investigator show me your evidence. Show me a reputable source where you got your information? When you make allegations you better have trustworthy sources to back up your story or it will fall away like the dust it is.

What does the League of Women Voters have to do with any of this? There you go slinging that mud and hoping it will stick. This is strictly between you and me! The League of Women Voters has nothing at all to do with my opinions or what I say. If you want there opinion go ask for it but I don’t think they will appreciate you calling them liars.

Lets address you handing out those papers at the Health Care Road Show. The Health Care Road Show was a presentation to explain the new health care policies that are going into effect this year to the public as a public service. How low and underhanded is a person that chooses to attend a function and pass out disinformation without permission and do it clandestinely? What reputable person would have the nerve to stoop so low and be so desperate they would sneak around, as a thief would do? I'll say this lady you have nerve but not much upstairs. How would you like it if I showed up from the Democratic Party at one of your Republican gathering and handed out our literature? One huge difference, this wasn't a political function but you tired to make it one.

Raising taxes? Well believe it and yes someone’s going to have to raise taxes or lay off over half of our state employees. Lets see who's been in power for how many years now? Lets blame it on those liberal Democrats, sling that mud and see how it sticks. With enough lies, disinformation you guys just might make it stick.

I really tried but I couldn’t find the information you furnished about Bill White. I googled the Houston Chronicle online and noting comes up when I asked for “Bill White 100 million dollar Houston deficit”. So I’ll have to say that’s another unproven smear. Myself along with a very long list of other area residents are fed up with the Roveian Republican Policies. I will not allow you or anyone else to tear my country apart. Lies will be met with truth and eventually our country will be restored.

There is a lady that has know you since you were in middle school, so I wasn’t giving out disinformation. 
 I understand that you are passionately in favor of elective abortions. However, these are healthy babies and healthy moms we're talking about - otherwise, they wouldn't be "elective" abortions. Physician assisted suicide is legal in Oregon, Washington, and other states - should Federal government-mandated and -subsidized insurance pay for the deaths of suicides, too?

I was extremely careful about handing out those papers: I explained that I am a Family Doctor and that the information was from a Family Doctor's viewpoint. I only gave it to people who reached for it after the explanation.

I don't believe there is a way for the Governor to raise taxes. Only the Legislature can do that -- and most of the possibilities rely on passing a Proposition in Novemeber, 2011. (The same way we passed the Defense of Marriage Amendment by 72% State wide and 80%+ in Comal County, back in 2005.) The people of Texas are unlikely to raise our own taxes: the reason State and local tax revenues are down is that our **incomes** are down.

As to the Houston budget, I gave a source. Besides the Politifact article, however, there were several others per Google, including the March 10, 2010 Houston Chronicle: "City Controller Ronald Green said the city is facing a budget gap of $12 million to $20 million this year and a $100 million gap for fiscal 2011. About $50 million of that could be closed by drawing down surplus funds the city built up several years ago, but the remainder will have to come from cuts, Green said

You claim that you were "... challenged (by a very rude woman who screamed at me and shook her finger in my face) " I was standing behind you and the nurse Candace King addressed her question to Ms. Pogue, she neither shook her finger in your face not screamed at all. As to your claim "that we will all subsidize the health care insurance exchanges that by law must have at least one plan that covers elective abortions." You make it sound like you and others who have moral objections to terminating pregnancies will be funding them through tax dollars when you know full well that it is untrue.

The co-sponsors did not pay for any of the expenses of the Health Care Roadshow, according to the President of the local MoveOn group, in his comments of 8-7-10 to me at the Herald-Zeitung Letters to the Editor.

 I apologize to all the parties involved for assuming that co-sponsors helped fund the meeting.

but it was after the event, not during the question and answer period.

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