Former White House Spokesman Bob Weiner & Economic Analyst Evan Baumel Set Record Straight On Health Law "Myths" That Harm Florida, Nation


Oct 05, 2014, 15:30 ET from Robert Weiner Associates

WASHINGTON and FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Oct. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Former chief of staff of the House Committee on Aging and Subcommittee on Health under Rep. Claude Pepper (D-FL) and former White House National Drug Policy spokesman Robert Weiner, along with Evan Baumel, Robert Weiner Associates' Senior Economic Policy Analyst have published an op-ed in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "Obamacare Haters Still Hurting Public."  The article dispels widely disseminated health law myths that harm Florida and the nation.  They also assert that Florida Governor Rick Scott is "twisted into a pretzel" over the issue.

Weiner and Baumel said that proponents of repeal of the Affordable Care act  "would reverse coverage of pre-existing conditions, children's health to age 26, lifetime benefits, preventive care including colonoscopies and mammograms, and insurance companies' use of at least 80% of premiums for benefits (with rebate checks to consumers if less). The repeal votes do not replace these provisions. Happily, the Senate has ignored the House."

They then turn to Florida's response to the ACA, which they consider "equally baffling. For over a year, Governor Scott and the legislature have not allowed expansion of Medicaid under the ACA, even though it would be paid through federal expenditures, not state.  800,000 Floridians, 20% of all uninsured in the state, could receive care if Medicaid were expanded as the law allows."

Baumel and Weiner also said, "The excuse many GOP leaders make when they reject Medicaid expansion is additional costs. Yet fewer federal funds have placed tremendous burdens on hospitals all throughout Florida. That's the reason hospital company president-turned Governor Rick Scott supported Medicaid expansion in the first place before his Republican base twisted him into a pretzel.  Medical facilities pass the uninsured's costs to taxpayers through higher prices, or go out of business. Secretary of HHS Sylvia Burwell released a study September 24 confirming that hospitals in the 27 states that expanded Medicaid so far had more paying customers and fewer uninsured, saving $4 billion. Medicaid coverage will significantly reduce the 'free-rider' phenomenon."

"Opponents of the measure," Weiner and Baumel stated, "rely on other false myths regarding the 'negative side-effects' of Obama's signature law to distract voters from inaction denying coverage."  The authors reported that "Florida House Representative Matt Hudson (R-Naples) told a Congressional committee that the ACA 'leads to higher costs.' The fact is, health care prices were rising at 6% annually for the twenty years prior to the passage of the law and have dropped to 1% since passage."

Baumel and Weiner counter the often-stated myth that "the law is a 'job killer,' as employers are forced to comply with requirements. How providing health care to CBO's projected 24 million new beneficiaries by 2016 will reduce jobs instead of expanding job growth, and how expanding the benefits will reduce rather than expand the need for health professionals, is baffling and simply untrue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the health care sector will add 5 million new jobs in the next decade. Headlines around the country from Sacramento to DC are stating, 'Health Care Jobs Surging in Region, Affordable Care Act Drives Growth.' Florida opponents should take note."

They also report that "Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) said that the insurance mandate puts citizens 'on the hook for billions that we currently do not have.'"  However, Weiner and Baumel point out that "it created a marketplace where citizens can review prices and plans from insurers and pick the best deal. Nearly one million Floridians have signed up through the federal exchange, and another million uninsured are eligible.  The market-based approach is precisely what economists and conservative politicians—from Bob Dole to Richard Nixon -- have long argued is necessary to increase competition."

Weiner and Baumel conclude: "The partisanship of the ACA's opponents remains a key obstacle for millions of Floridians and people across the nation to receive the care they need. Florida voters must make clear to the Governor and the legislature that expanding Medicaid is not only a moral choice, but also an economic one for both patients and hospitals. They must also tell their U.S. representatives that more votes to repeal and defund the ACA, catering to insurance companies, are not in their interest."

Robert Weiner is former chief of staff of the House Committee on Aging and Subcommittee on Health under Rep. Claude Pepper (D-FL) and former White House National Drug Policy spokesman. Evan Baumel, a Wellington resident, is Senior Economic Policy Analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and author of "Broken Mast: Changing Course for the Capitalist Ship."

Contact: Bob Weiner/Tom Sherman 301-283-0821, cell 202-306-1200, 

SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates