Affordable Care Act Affects On Trucking Industry
Today, we move onto the next portion of the Obamacare law. I’m still under the impression that this law will be a good thing for self-employed truck drivers and possibly company drivers that have a tendency to switch companies often because of the portability factor of the plans and the use of the “Free Choice Vouchers”. We will see in my continued research today and throughout the rest of this blog series if my opinion changes based on any particular fishy section of the law.
The first section of Obamacare that I reviewed in my revisit to the text was the expansion of Medicaid. This expansion will give more people below the poverty line access to Medicaid. I don’t foresee any drivers needing access to Medicaid while they are actively driving but, I could see the role of this expansion coming into play if a driver gets hurt on the job and is out of work. Then this expansion would be a positive thing to keep the drivers medical care going and with the abolition of the pre-existing condition clause I would expect to see no issues transitioning to Medicaid if the driver’s income falls below the poverty line. Along with Medicaid they are also making it easier for children to get into the “C.H.I.P.” program. The Children’s Health Insurance Program is a way for low-income family to provide medical care to their children at a lower cost. The guidelines for c.h.i.p. are getting streamlined along with medicaid to provide better access of these programs. They are also improving the funding through the bill for both of these programs so that they will be able to cover more people. And I’m assuming with the idea that the ACA will reduce overall healthcare costs it should provide greater access down the road. I am not going to claim that Obamacare will indeed reduce healthcare costs, I’m just saying that Obamacare has been put in place to supposedly help reduce the costs. I will be watching anxiously as well as many other well informed Americans in the battle to reduce the outrageous cost of healthcare in America.
In section 2951 it talks about Maternal and Child Health Services. The takeaway from this section is that they will be adding support for families in high risk areas with post-birth counseling and training to ensure the viability of the new child. They allocate funding for in home coaching and services for the family so that they are able to better care for the new baby. It also provides support and funding for education and research into postpartum depression. This program probably would have been a welcome addition for the family of the woman that was shot in D.C. who had been reportedly suffering from postpartum psychosis. (See article here http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-10-03/politics/42649836_1_car-chase-u-s-capitol-two-officers). This section also talks about assisting in sex awareness education in trying to reduce high risk birthrate areas in the population. As well as funding for STD education, which includes abstinence as well as ways of protection for the individuals.
Both of the sections above and many other sections so far mention government grants for community provided services and outreach programs. In my opinion, this will help existing service providers as well as create new jobs with new services to help out the people that are in need of these services in our communities. There seems to be a real focus on alternatives to standard hospital services and doctors visits in the form of providing these community services. I foresee this, if funded correctly to be a pretty awesome thing if it actually works the way it is intended. I can see this bringing our communities closer together and hopefully there will be more compassion for our neighbors and fellow man, which I feel is lacking in our society today.
The next transition we make in the Obamacare bill comes out in Title 3 Improving the Quality and Efficiency of Health Care. It has a subtitle of Transforming the Health Care Delivery System. At first glance, I’m not to fond that we have a government entity running oversight on our hospitals and doctors. But, on closer examination of the first section I actually like what I’m seeing. The first section 3001 introduces a Hospital Value-Based Payment Program, this section is only referring to Medicare recipients though. It talks about rewarding hospitals and doctors who meet certain guidelines by offering more money on reimbursement. Some of the guidelines they wrote about were readmission rates, certain surgeries and diseases that are a common occurrence in the elderly. There will be yearly reports filed to the government on certain statistics and metrics that will help the government decide how much the reimbursement rate is for that hospital. They will also be penalties imposed to hospitals and doctors for substandard care as well. Some of the information in the these reports will be available on a “hospital ratings” website that is to be created later. I tried to search for this information on healthcare.gov and got this error “Due to the government shutdown, Hospital Compare data could not be updated in October. The data will be refreshed again on or about December 12.” Not that the website is entirely working either, but sounds about par for the course with anything government.
In section 3011, National Strategy to Improve Health Care Quality, it gives a rundown of some pretty good ideas. They are going to, or are in the process of establishing a nationwide healthcare database with different information regarding care, pricing and outcomes. All the data will be pooled and analyzed to hopefully provide better care, lower costs and possibly discovery of new treatments. This collection of data is however a double edged sword and a little bit disturbing. This is probably the “pandora’s box” that many people are worried about. Where the intentions I’m sure are good, this section gives a lot of power in the form of data collection and oversight directed by the government when it comes to our healthcare. I feel that if the right people are in place (rarely happens in government), the intentions are good (sometimes happens in the government) and they use it discreetly (laughable), I could see that this data collection and oversight could be a good thing. This section is certainly where I would worry about any violations of HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). The main premise of the HIPAA laws is to protect patient privacy, for more information on HIPAA see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/. But, With all our concerns with national security, the NSA and spying, I really don’t understand why we would actually think any of our information is actually protected at all. With that being said, I do think that this section of the Obamacare law has the most potential to upset the majority of the populous. As well as being possibly the most helpful in streamlining the health care industry and curbing the high costs.
The next 100 pages of the bill are dedicated to extending Medicare programs, Medicare Part D and reforms to Medicare as a whole. My hope is that with all this government oversight on health care and medicare/medicaid we will see a reduction in the fraud. According to this story http://money.cnn.com/2013/11/01/pf/medicare-deceased/index.html?iid=HP_LN written by Blake Ellis appearing on the CNN website November 1st we paid 23 million dollars to dead Medicare recipients. I think there is a great need for these social programs like Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP and Social Security but, if we cannot reign in fraud and waste they will eventually de-fund themselves. I’m not really counting on these benefits being there when I am able to retire in 30+ years and neither should you. I don’t see a point in providing more information on Medicare since it does not impact active drivers today. If you are 65+ then you should check out section 3101 where all of this is covered.
As of today’s post I am still fairly optimistic that with improvements Obamacare can certainly help us out in the trucking community. It will give us more benefits for the money that we pay. Hopefully you’ve come to find this information useful and applicable. Just as yesterday the information on this law is found here http://housedocs.house.gov/energycommerce/ppacacon.pdf. Please leave comments, questions or suggestions as you please and of course be safe out there!