Tell Congress To Vote on Obamacare Reform Starting With House’s Vote Tonight

The US House of Representatives is scheduled to vote again tonight on the revised Majority-leadership lead first step healthcare reform legislation seeking to provide Americans and American business with some initial relief from the soaring premium and health care costs, care access barriers  and regulatory and other burdens that have resulted under the ObamaCare law and regulations.  Every American should call, e-mail or fax the leaders and their Congressperson as soon as possible today and tell them to pass this legislation and get busy passing the next set of reforms with no further delay, the get and stay II formed and involved until it gets it done starting with the House hearing and vote slated tonight starting at 8:30 Eastern.  Get details here.

Health care and its reform is a complex challenge.  Americans and American businesses, health payers,  and States and their healthcare needs are highly diverse. The ambitious but far from successful Obamacare law shows the dangers of well-meaning but unrealistic To try to fix these challenges with a sweeping, one shot fix.  

While passage of this legislative package won’t magically fix these challenges, it will provide quick relief for some of the ObamaCare expense and restrictions and expand the choices that Americans, American business, payers, providers and States while Congress works with American to identify and pursue legislative, regulatory, marketplace and other improvements. 

New HHS Web Page To Track HHS ACA Relief & Reform

The Department of Health and Human Services recently launched a new web page on HHS.gov highlighting the regulatory and administrative actions the Department is taking to relieve the burden of the current healthcare law and support a patient-centered healthcare system in response to President Trump’s January 20, 2017 Executive Order Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal (the “Executive Order”).

In the Executive Order, President Trump among other things:

  • Confirmed the Trump Administration’s policy to seek the prompt repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148), as amended (the “ACA”); and
  • Announced the Trump Administration’s directivepending the planned ACA repeal to ensure that the law is being efficiently implemented, take all actions consistent with law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the ACA, and prepare to afford the States more flexibility and control to create a more free and open healthcare market.

In furtherance of these policies, the Executive Order also directed the Secretary of HHS and and the heads of all other executive departments and agencies (agencies) with authorities and responsibilities under the ACA to the maximum extent permitted by law:

  • To exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the ACA that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications;
  • To exercise all authority and discretion available to them to provide greater flexibility to States and cooperate with them in implementing healthcare programs;
  • To encourage the development of a free and open market in interstate commerce for the offering of healthcare services and health insurance, with the goal of achieving and preserving maximum options for patients and consumers.

HHS intends to use the new web page to announce new measures as adopted by HHS in furtherance of the Executive Order with a planned emphasis in particular upon actions to

  • Lower costs and increase choices by providing relief from the burdensome regulations and fostering competition in insurance markets;
  • Work to ensure a stable transition period;
  • Offer states greater flexibility of their Medicaid programs to meet the needs of their most vulnerable populations; and
  • Increase the opportunities for patients to get the care they need when they need it.

According to statements on the new web page, HHS intends to purse these objectives by “going through every page of regulations and guidance related to the Affordable Care Act to determine whether or not they work for patients and whether or not they are making our health care system better.”

Check out and follow these developments here.

About The Author

Recognized by LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® as a “AV-Preeminent” (Top 1%/ the highest) and “Top Rated Lawyer,” with special recognition  as “LEGAL LEADER™ Texas Top Rated Lawyer” in Health Care Law and Labor and Employment Law; as among the “Best Lawyers In Dallas” for her work in the fields of “Health Care,” “Labor & Employment,” “Tax: Erisa & Employee Benefits”  and “Business and Commercial Law” by D Magazine, the author of this update is widely known for her 29 plus years’ of work in health care, health benefit, health policy and regulatory affairs and other health industry concerns as a practicing attorney and management consultant, thought leader, author, public policy advocate and lecturer.

Throughout her adult life and nearly 30-year legal career, Ms. Stamer’s legal, management and governmental affairs work has focused on helping health industry, health benefit and other organizations and their management use the law, performance and risk management tools and process to manage people, performance, quality, compliance, operations and risk. Highly valued for her rare ability to find pragmatic client-centric solutions by combining her detailed legal and operational knowledge and experience with her talent for creative problem-solving, Ms. Stamer supports these organizations and their leaders on both a real-time, “on demand” basis as well as outsourced operations or special counsel on an interim, special project, or ongoing basis with strategic planning and product and services development and innovation; workforce and operations management,  crisis preparedness and response as well as to prevent, stabilize and cleanup legal and operational crises large and small that arise in the course of operations. Her experience encompasses  helping health industry clients manage workforce, medical staff, vendors and suppliers, medical billing, reimbursement, claims and other provider-payer relations, business partners, and their recruitment, performance, discipline, compliance, safety, compensation, benefits, and training ;board, medical staff and other governance;   compliance and internal controls; strategic planning, process and quality improvement; change management;  assess, deter, investigate and address staffing, quality, compliance  and other performance;  meaningful use, EMR, HIPAA and other data security and breach and other health IT and data; crisis preparedness and response; internal, government and third-party reporting, audits, investigations and enforcement; government affairs and public policy; and other compliance and risk management, government and regulatory affairs and operations concerns.

The American Bar Association (ABA) International Section Life Sciences Committee Vice Chair, a Scribe for the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits (JCEB) Annual OCR Agency Meeting, former Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section, past ABA JCEB Council Representative, past Board President of Richardson Development Center (now Warren Center) for Children Early Childhood Intervention Agency, past North Texas United Way Long Range Planning Committee Member, and past Board Member and Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has worked closely with a diverse range of physicians, hospitals and healthcare systems, DME, Pharma, clinics, health care providers, managed care, insurance and other health care payers, quality assurance, credentialing, technical, research, public and private social and community organizations, and other health industry organizations and their management deal with governance; credentialing, patient relations and care; staffing, peer review, human resources and workforce performance management; outsourcing; internal controls and regulatory compliance; billing and reimbursement; physician, employment, vendor, managed care, government and other contracting; business transactions; grants; tax-exemption and not-for-profit; licensure and accreditation; vendor selection and management; privacy and data security; training; risk and change management; regulatory affairs and public policy and other concerns.

As a core component of her work,  Ms. Stamer has worked extensively throughout her career with health care providers, health plans and insurers, managed care organizations, health care clearinghouses, their business associates, employers, banks and other financial institutions, management services organizations, professional associations, medical staffs, accreditation agencies, auditors, technology and other vendors and service providers, and others on legal and operational compliance, risk management and compliance, public policies and regulatory affairs, contracting, payer-provider, provider-provider, vendor, patient, governmental and community relations and matters including extensive involvement advising, representing and defending public and private hospitals and health care systems; physicians, physician organizations and medical staffs; specialty clinics and pharmacies; skilled nursing, home health, rehabilitation and other health care providers and facilities; medical staff, accreditation, peer review and quality committees and organizations; billing and management services organizations; consultants; investors; technology, billing and reimbursement and other services and product vendors; products and solutions consultants and developers; investors; managed care organizations, insurers, self-insured health plans and other payers; and other health industry clients to establish and administer compliance and risk management policies; comply with requirements, investigate and respond to Board of Medicine, Health, Nursing, Pharmacy, Chiropractic, and other licensing agencies, Department of Aging & Disability, FDA, Drug Enforcement Agency, OCR Privacy and Civil Rights, Department of Labor, IRS, HHS, DOD, FTC, SEC, CDC and other public health, Department of Justice and state attorneys’ general and other federal and state agencies; JCHO and other accreditation and quality organizations; private litigation and other federal and state health care industry investigation, enforcement including  insurance or other liability management and allocation; process and product development, contracting, deployment and defense; evaluation, commenting or seeking modification of regulatory guidance, and other regulatory and public policy advocacy; training and discipline; enforcement, and a host of other related concerns for public and private health care providers, health insurers, health plans, technology and other vendors, employers, and others.and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns.

Past Chair of the ABA Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group and, a Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel, the American Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation, Ms. Stamer also has extensive health care reimbursement and insurance experience advising and defending health care providers, payers, and others about Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare and Medicaid Advantage, Tri-Care, self-insured group, association, individual and group and other health benefit programs and coverages including but not limited to advising public and private payers about coverage and program design and documentation, advising and defending providers, payers and systems and billing services entities about systems and process design, audits, and other processes; provider credentialing, and contracting; providers and payer billing, reimbursement, claims audits, denials and appeals, coverage coordination, reporting, direct contracting, False Claims Act, Medicare & Medicaid, ERISA, state Prompt Pay, out-of-network and other nonpar insured, and other health care claims, prepayment, post-payment and other coverage, claims denials, appeals, billing and fraud investigations and actions and other reimbursement and payment related investigation, enforcement, litigation and actions.

Heavily involved in health care and health information technology, data and related process and systems development, policy and operations innovation and a Scribe for ABA JCEB annual agency meeting with OCR for many years who has authored numerous highly-regarded works and training programs on HIPAA and other data security, privacy and use, Ms. Stamer also is widely recognized for her extensive work and leadership on leading edge health care and benefit policy and operational issues including meaningful use and EMR, billing and reimbursement, quality measurement and reimbursement, HIPAA, FACTA, PCI, trade secret, physician and other medical confidentiality and privacy, federal and state data security and data breach and other information privacy and data security rules and many other concerns.  Her work includes both regulatory and public policy advocacy and thought leadership, as well as advising and representing a broad range of health industry and other clients about policy design, drafting, administration, business associate and other contracting,  risk assessments, audits and other risk prevention and mitigation, investigation, reporting, mitigation and resolution of known or suspected violations or other incidents and responding to and defending investigations or other actions by plaintiffs, DOJ, OCR, FTC, state attorneys’ general and other federal or state agencies, other business partners, patients and others.

Ms. Stamer has worked extensively with health care providers, health plans, health care clearinghouses, their business associates, employers and other plan sponsors, banks and other financial institutions, and others on risk management and compliance with HIPAA, FACTA, trade secret and other information privacy and data security rules, including the establishment, documentation, implementation, audit and enforcement of policies, procedures, systems and safeguards, investigating and responding to known or suspected breaches, defending investigations or other actions by plaintiffs, OCR and other federal or state agencies, reporting known or suspected violations, business associate and other contracting, commenting or obtaining other clarification of guidance, training and enforcement, and a host of other related concerns. Her clients include public and private health care providers, health insurers, health plans, technology and other vendors, and others. In addition to representing and advising these organizations, she also has conducted training on Privacy & The Pandemic for the Association of State & Territorial Health Plans, as well as HIPAA, FACTA, PCI, medical confidentiality, insurance confidentiality and other privacy and data security compliance and risk management for Los Angeles County Health Department, MGMA, ISSA, HIMMS, the ABA, SHRM, schools, medical societies, government and private health care and health plan organizations, their business associates, trade associations and others.

A former lead consultant to the Government of Bolivia on its Pension Privatization Project with extensive domestic and international public policy and governmental and regulatory affairs experience, Ms. Stamer also is widely recognized for regulatory and policy work, advocacy and outreach on healthcare, education, aging, disability, savings and retirement, workforce, ethics, and other policies.  Throughout her adult life and career, Ms. Stamer has provided thought leadership; policy and program design, statutory and regulatory development design and analysis; drafted legislation, proposed regulations and other guidance, position statements and briefs, comments and other critical policy documents; advised, assisted and represented health care providers, health plans and insurers, employers, professional. and trade associations, community and government leaders and others on health care, health, pension and retirement, workers’ compensation, Social Security and other benefit, insurance and financial services, tax, workforce, aging and disability, immigration, privacy and data security and a host of other international and domestic federal, state and local public policy and regulatory reforms through her involvement and participation in numerous client engagements, founder and Executive Director of the Coalition for Responsible Health Policy and its PROJECT COPE: the Coalition on Patient Empowerment, adviser to the National Physicians Congress for Healthcare Policy, leadership involvement with the US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Association of Business, the ABA JCEB, Health Law, RPTE, Tax, Labor, TIPS, International Life Sciences, and other Sections and Committees, SHRM Governmental Affairs Committee and a host of other  involvements and activities.

A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical  staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, privacy and data security, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns. Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications.

A Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel, the American Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation, Ms. Stamer also shares her thought leadership, experience and advocacy on these and other related concerns by her service in the leadership of the Solutions Law Press, Inc. Coalition for Responsible Health Policy, its PROJECT COPE:  Coalition on Patient Empowerment, and a broad range of other professional and civic organizations including North Texas Healthcare Compliance Association, a founding Board Member and past President of the Alliance for Healthcare Excellence, past Board Member and Board Compliance Committee Chair for the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas; former Board President of the early childhood development intervention agency, The Richardson Development Center for Children (now Warren Center For Children);  current Vice Chair of the ABA Tort & Insurance Practice Section Employee Benefits Committee, current Vice Chair of Policy for the Life Sciences Committee of the ABA International Section, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section, a current Defined Contribution Plan Committee Co-Chair, former Group Chair and Co-Chair of the ABA RPTE Section Employee Benefits Group, past Representative and chair of various committees of ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits; a ABA Health Law Coordinating Council representative, former Coordinator and a Vice-Chair of the Gulf Coast TEGE Council TE Division, past Chair of the Dallas Bar Association Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Committee, a former member of the Board of Directors of the Southwest Benefits Association and others.

Ms. Stamer also is a highly popular lecturer, symposium and chair, faculty member and author, who publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry, human resources, employment and other privacy, data security and other technology, regulatory and operational risk management. Examples of her many highly regarded publications on these matters include “Protecting & Using Patient Data In Disease Management: Opportunities, Liabilities And Prescriptions,” “Privacy Invasions of Medical Care-An Emerging Perspective,” “Cybercrime and Identity Theft: Health Information Security: Beyond HIPAA,” as well as thousands of other publications, programs and workshops these and other concerns for the American Bar Association, ALI-ABA, American Health Lawyers, Society of Human Resources Professionals, the Southwest Benefits Association, the Society of Employee Benefits Administrators, the American Law Institute, Lexis-Nexis, Atlantic Information Services, The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA), InsuranceThoughtLeaders.com, Benefits Magazine, Employee Benefit News, Texas CEO Magazine, HealthLeaders, the HCCA, ISSA, HIMSS, Modern Healthcare, Managed Healthcare, Institute of Internal Auditors, Society of CPAs, Business Insurance, Employee Benefits News, World At Work, Benefits Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, and many other symposia and publications. She also has served as an Editorial Advisory Board Member for human resources, employee benefit and other management focused publications of BNA, HR.com, Employee Benefit News, Insurance Thought Leadership and many other prominent publications and speaks and conducts training for a broad range of professional organizations.

For more information about Ms. Stamer or her health industry and other experience and involvements, see here or contact Ms. Stamer via telephone at (469) 767-8872 or via e-mail here.

About Solutions Law Press, Inc.™

Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ provides human resources and employee benefit and other business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other coaching, tools and other resources, training and education on leadership, governance, human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ resources here such as:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information including your preferred e-mail by creating  your profile here.

©2017 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press, Inc.™  All other rights reserved.   For information about republication or other use, please contact Ms. Stamer here.

Everyone Has A Part In Making Healthcare Better

Improving health care, its quality and affordability is everyone’s responsibility and everyone has a role to play.

Improving health care, its quality and affordability is everyone’s responsibility and everyone has a role to play.  

Congress can do things to influence who provides care, how health care is accessed, how much it costs and how these costs are paid.  While this can ease or raise barriers to care, patients, their caregivers and their heealth care teams still need help well beyond the power of regulators, payers or others to deliver.  These bureaucratic “saviors” : 

  • Can’t prevent disease, illness or disabilities;
  • Can’t erase the personal disappointment, pain, fear, frustration or struggle of aging, illness, disability or death;
  • Can’t provide all the emotional support and encouragement patients and caregivers need to keep going;
  • Poorly provide the real time help to cover the babysitting, transportation and other help to organize or go the chores of daily living that patients and families need help with because they can’t get it all done; 
  • Support on a day to day basis individuals to eat right, exercise and live healthier; or
  • So many other realities of trying to live well, with or without aging, disease or illness.

We all eventually need this help and all can do something to help.  Step up and pass it along.  Someday it will be your turn!

Congress will never get health care policy right until regular people and health providers and the employers and communities caring for them get informed and involved and no matter what, policy can’t fix healthcare completely.

This is one Policy Debate too important to you, your family and your community to sit out or act on tag lines. Get informed and share your specific ideas and thoughts about the Act and your other input on what our health care system should look like going forward, how these proposals relate and the other reforms you believe Congress should make to build a better healthcare system for today that can survive into the future by joining the discussion in the Solutions Law Press, Inc. Coalition for Responsible Health Care Policy LinkedIn Group

©2017 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Nonexclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press, Inc.

Listen To Dr. Strickland’s Commin Sense Health Fix Insights

Start cutting through the political hype around healtg reform by listening to real people on the front line:  the patients and doctors on the frontline.  Start by listening in here to Dr. Mike Strickland, who is making a difference in the treatment room and fighting for patients and their healthcare on the airways and in Washington, D.C.

Congress will never get health care policy right until regular people and health providers and the employers and communities caring for them get informed and involved.  

This is one Policy Debate too important to you, your family and your community to sit out or act on tag lines.  Get informed and share your specific ideas and thoughts about the Act and your other input on what our health care system should look like going forward, how these proposals relate and the other reforms you believe Congress should make to build a better healthcare system for today that can survive into the future by joining the discussion in the Solutions Law Press, Inc. Coalition for Responsible Health Care Policy LinkedIn Group

©2017 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Nonexclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press, Inc.

ACA Repeal & Replace Debate Heats Up

How will Rrpublican health reforms change tax subsidies?

Get informed, get involved and speak up to help shape the future of your healthcare.  

Expected early step in the reform process is to repeal The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax credit subsidies.  Get started by reviewing this perspective about How Affordable Care Act Repeal and Replace Plans Might Shift Health Insurance Tax Credits.

Informed voter input and feedback is critical to help promote a better system.  As Americans gear up for the next round of debate there are some basic realities we all must confront.

As the healthcare reform debate resumes, voters and leaders considering these matters must look forward, not back.
Voters and leaders need to focus on discrete, SPECIFIC, reforms that best promote patient-empowered decision making and communicate their wishes clearly to Congressional and state elected officials. We must get beyond buzz words and hype to talk about what, how, when, who chooses, who does the work, how they get paid and other very concrete matters. Pie in the sky, idealistic policies aren’t a real option and only promise more waste and disillusionment.

Because the reforms enacted over the past 7 years disassembled the old system, the old system no longer exists. Consequently, repeal alone isn’t a real option, even for those who dream of the “good old days.”

Also, Congress cannot undo Obamacare or fix healthcare with one magic vote. Even those who call for Congress on day one to repeal the ACA need to realize that the instant repeal will not undo the healthcare reform’s that were enacted because these reforms are hardwired into the state insurance laws and regulations that were implemented in response to the ACA.

Further, even if repeal would magically bring back the old system, going back to those old days doesn’t necessarily mean problem solved. Obamacare passed because the old system had problems. Coverage was still expensive and there were many people uninsured. The difference now is that a lot of the money is going for a huge regulatory nightmare that strips off money for Care to pay for infrastructure and regulators. As a result regardless of whether you repeal and replace or you systematically work through the laws the process will need to be specific and address the particular individual action items to fix the system. Any other process just replace this one mess with another.

Additionally, this is an American opportunity, that transcends partisanship. Healthcare requires statesmanship from our leaders and citizens. We are at war against disease and death. We must work as a team to fight this universal enemy.

We all bleed red and death eventually claims us all. Life, death and the care of the health of our nation is a shared need and a shared responsibility. Death, disability and illness come to all families regardless if income, race, sex, religion, or other classification that too often is used to distinguish and divide us. Health care is about helping families and communities care for loved ones dealing with the challenges of illness and eventually death. If we must argue over these distinction within our society, let’s do it somewhere else besides health care.

Resources are limited. We can’t give everything to everybody and someone has to pay the bill. Be cautious about financing by having the “haves” pick up the cost for the “have less.” Too often the have-nots suffer from reduced wages or employment from these Robin Hood financing strategies.

Also paying for it matters. Reforms that break the budget are unreliable and therefore aren’t sustainable. Bang for the buck matters.

Americans must stop treating health care professionals as religious martyrs. Physicians care for patients and pay a huge price dealing with the physical, financial and lifestyle demands to do so. Physicians and other healthcare professions deserve and must get paid commensurate with the skill, responsibility and accountability Americans expect. We must question why Americans have no problem with a talented athlete with a high school education earning millions of dollars in the NBA but feel a doctor who spends 8-10 years and a half a million dollars or more earning the right to care for patients, who is paid far less, earns too much. Healthcare isn’t free and legislating unreasonably low reimbursement drives quality providers out of healthcare, undermines quality, availability or both. Americans that ignore this reality can and should look forward to being cared for by less educated, less skilled physicians.

Finally healthcare isn’t one size fits all and wellness and disease management at best slows, but cannot defeat death. Each individual and his or her family will experience a different path of life, illness and health, and ultimately death. These are personal matters that require personal choice to match these unavoidable personal responsibilities.

To help ensure you and your family retain the choices most important to you and understand the choices that this round of health care reform will product, you must embrace your right and responsibility to plan for and deal with these challenges by getting informed and participating.

Share your specific ideas and thoughts about what our health care system should look like going forward, how these proposals relate and the other reforms you believe Congress should make to build a better healthcare system for today that can survive into the future by joining the discussion in the Solutions Law Press, Inc. Coalition for Responsible Health Care Policy LinkedIn Group

Speak Up Now On Health Reform 2017

Voters’ election of President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican Majority put health care reform squarely back on the table even as leaders debate if repeal or reform, and if reform, what reform Americans want.

Voters’ election of President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican Majority put health care reform squarely back on the table even as leaders debate if repeal or  reform, and if reform, what reform Americans want.

The increasingly evident cracks and extraordinary cost of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) reforms  make clear reform is needed.  Contrary to the exuberant claims of the victors, however, the  election results are not so overwhelming that they provide a clear mandate for healthcare reform or a clear pathway for what to replace it with. If healthcare reform this time around is to do any better than the last, boaters need to become very involved and very specific about what they like and don’t like and very realistic terms and leaders need to listen and act on that input to come up with the most pragmatic and specific plan possible quickly.

As Americans gear up for the next round of debate there are some basic realities we all must confront.

Pie in the sky, idealistic policies aren’t a real option and only promise more waste and disillusionment.

As the healthcare reform debate resumes,  voters and leaders considering these matters must look forward, not back.
Voters and leaders need to focus on discrete, SPECIFIC, reforms that best promote patient-empowered decision making and communicate their wishes clearly to Congressional and state elected officials. We must get beyond buzz words and hype to talk about what, how, when, who chooses, who does the work, how they get paid and other very concrete matters.

Because  the reforms enacted over the past 7 years disassembled the old system,  the old system no longer exists.  Consequently,  repeal alone isn’t a real option, even for those who dream of the “good old days.”

Also, Congress cannot undo Obamacare or fix healthcare with one magic vote.  Even  those who call for Congress on day one to repeal the ACA need to realize that the instant repeal will not undo the healthcare reform’s that were enacted because these reforms are hardwired into the state insurance laws and regulations that were implemented in response to the ACA.

Further, even  if repeal would magically bring back the old system, going back to those old days doesn’t necessarily mean problem solved.  Obamacare passed because the old system had problems.  Coverage was still expensive and there were many people uninsured.  The difference now is that a lot of the money is going for a huge regulatory nightmare that strips off money for Care to pay for infrastructure and regulators.  As a result regardless of whether you repeal and replace or you systematically work through the laws the process will need to be specific and address the particular individual action items to fix the system. Any other process just replace this one mess with another.

Additionally, this is an American opportunity, that transcends partisanship.  Healthcare requires statesmanship from our leaders and citizens.  We are at war against disease and death.  We must work as a team to fight this universal enemy.

We all bleed red and death eventually claims us all.  Life, death and the care of the health of our nation is a shared need and a shared responsibility.  Death, disability and illness come to all families regardless if income, race, sex, religion, or other classification that too often is used to distinguish and divide us.  Health care is about helping families and communities care for loved ones dealing with the challenges of illness and eventually death.  If we must argue over these distinction within our society, let’s do it somewhere else besides health care.

Resources are limited.  We can’t give everything to everybody and someone has to pay the bill.   Be cautious about financing by having the “haves” pick up the cost for the “have less.” Too often the have-nots suffer from reduced wages or employment from these Robin Hood financing strategies.

Also paying for it matters.  Reforms that break the budget are unreliable and therefore aren’t sustainable.  Bang for the buck matters.

Americans must stop treating health care professionals as religious martyrs. Physicians care for patients and pay a huge price dealing with the physical, financial and lifestyle demands to do so.   Physicians and other healthcare professions deserve and must get paid commensurate with the skill, responsibility and accountability Americans expect.  We must question why Americans have no problem with a talented athlete with a high school education earning millions of dollars in the NBA but feel a doctor who spends 8-10 years and a half a million dollars or more earning the right to care for patients, who is paid far less, earns too much. Healthcare isn’t free and legislating unreasonably low reimbursement drives quality providers out of healthcare, undermines quality, availability or both.   Americans that ignore this reality can and should look forward to being cared for by less educated, less skilled physicians.

Finally healthcare isn’t one size fits all and wellness and disease management at best slows, but cannot defeat death.  Each individual and his or her family will experience a different path of life, illness and health, and ultimately death.  These are personal matters that require personal choice to match these unavoidable personal responsibilities.

To help ensure you and your family retain the choices most important to you and understand the choices that this round of health care reform will product, you must embrace your right and responsibility to plan for and deal with these challenges by getting informed and participating.

Here’s some reading to get started: the leading proposals of the Republican Majority leaders:

Share your thoughts about what our health care system should look like going forward, how these proposals relate and the other reforms you believe Congress should make to build a better healthcare system for today that can survive into the future by joining the discussion  in the Solutions Law Press, Inc. Coalition for Responsible Health Care Policy LinkedIn Group.

Primary Votes Matter: Vote

 

By:  Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, Publisher, Solutions Law Press, Inc.; Executive Director, PROJECT COPE:  Coalition on Patient Empowerment & Coalition for Responsible Healthcare Policy; Managing Shareholder, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C., a Member of Stamer Chadwick Soefje PLLC.

With tomorrow’s “Super Tuesday” March 1, 2016 primary elections set to define the Presidential, Congressional and state and local candidates that Americans in November will chose from to lead U.S. policy, Americans concerned about health care or other critical policies need to make time to vote as well as participate in our political process through their own responsible political action  and encouraging other to do the same.  Voting in the upcoming March 1 or other Primary Election in your state is a particularly valuable opportunity to meaningfully influence the direction of our government by helping pick the candidates that will qualify to participate in the general election in November, as well as provide input on other key local issues on your ballot.

As Obamacare and other reforms continue to reshape our health care choices and wallets as other policies key to promoting and maintaining the health, prosperity, education, and freedom of our nation, every American should seize the opportunity to provide their input to elected officials.  While providing input or feedback on an ongoing basis to policy leaders also is important, too many Americans fail to take advantage of the most important and most easily accessible opportunity to participate – VOTING!

Contrary to the unfounded “my vote doesn’t count” claims of many Americans, voters that vote actually still decide who are candidates are and which of these candidates get elected to serve Americans.

In today’s tightly contested primary and general elections where increasingly are decided by margins of 5 percent or less of those voters who actually vote, every vote matters. In fact,  it is the very small number of Americans who actually bother to cast a ballot who actually pick our leaders and set the political agenda.  Sadly, the majority of eligible American voters don’t vote in primary or general elections.  Since very few Americans vote and elections are decided by the majority of Americans that actually vote, the power of the vote cast by any voter is much greater than most Americans realize and nowhere is this more true than in primary elections and caucuses.

Primary voting provides the best bang for the buck to voters looking to maximize the power of their vote.  Voters that vote in primaries in fact exercise extraordinary power both because their votes determine the slate of candidates on the ballot in the general election and because the extraordinary low voter turnout percentage means their individual vote carries more weight than in elections with higher voter turnout.  Take the current presidential primaries. According to United States Election Project Statistics, only 8.2% of eligible Republicans voted in the Nevada primary election on February 23, 2016; more than 90% of Republican voters didn’t participate.  Similarly, the February 1, 2016 Iowa Caucus was decided by the votes cast by only 15.7% of the eligible voters. More than 84% of Iowa voters didn’t participate.  See http://www.electproject.org/2016P.  Accordingly, just by showing up to vote, primary voters carry tremendous weight versus other election and the ballots cast by those voters carry on through the general election by deciding which candidates make the ballot in the general election.

The bottom line, your vote in the upcoming March 1 or other primary matters a lot more than you think.  Flex your political muscle in your March 1 or other upcoming primary election by voting.  Your vote will carry tremendous weight in deciding not only who lives in the White House for the next four years, but also the leaders who will represent you in Congress and state and local offices that exercise more direct, day-to-day influence over your lives and your finances.

About Project COPE: The Coalition On Patient Empowerment &  Coalition on Responsible Health Policy

Do you have ideas about how to improve the understandability of medication warnings or research findings for patients or other ideas about how to improve healthcare or health care policy?  Share your ideas in the  PROJECT COPE: Coalition On Patient Empowerment LinkedIn Group.  If you have knowledge, experience or other resources that could help patients, families, communities, or the government better understand or cope with  Asperger’s or other health care conditions, costs of care, or other challenges affecting Americans and the American health care system, we encourage you to get involved and share your insights.

As American leaders continue to struggle to deal with these and other mounting problems impacting the U.S. health care system, the input of individual Americans and businesses and community leaders is more critical than ever.  Get involved in helping to shape improvements and solutions to the U.S. health care system and the Americans it cares for by sharing your ideas and input through the Coalition For Responsible Health Care Policy  and exchanging information and ideas for helping American families deal with their family member’s illnesses, disabilities and other healthcare challenges through PROJECT COPE: Coalition On Patient Empowerment.

Sharing and promoting the use of practical practices, tools, information and ideas that patients and their families, health care providers, employers, health plans, communities and policymakers can share and offer to help patients, their families and others in their care communities to understand and work together to better help the patients, their family and their professional and private care community plan for and manage these  needs is the purpose of PROJECT COPE.

The Coalition and its PROJECT COPE arise and run on the belief that health care reform and policy must be patient centric and patient empowering.  The best opportunity to improve access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans is for every American, and every employer, insurer, and community organization to seize the opportunity to be good Samaritans.  The government, health care providers, insurers and community organizations can help by providing education and resources to make understanding and dealing with the realities of illness, disability or aging easier for a patient and their family, the affected employers and others. At the end of the day, however, caring for people requires the human touch.  Americans can best improve health care by not waiting for someone else to step up:  Step up and help bridge the gap when you or your organization can. Speak up to help communicate and facilitate when you can.  Building health care neighborhoods filled with good neighbors throughout the community is the key.

The outcome of this latest health care reform push is only a small part of a continuing process.  Whether or not the Affordable Care Act makes financing care better or worse, the same challenges exist.  The real meaning of the enacted reforms will be determined largely by the shaping and implementation of regulations and enforcement actions which generally are conducted outside the public eye.  Americans individually and collectively clearly should monitor and continue to provide input through this critical time to help shape constructive rather than obstructive policy. Regardless of how the policy ultimately evolves, however, Americans, American businesses, and American communities still will need to roll up their sleeves and work to deal with the realities of dealing with ill, aging and disabled people and their families.  While the reimbursement and coverage map will change and new government mandates will confine providers, payers and patients, the practical needs and challenges of patients and families will be the same and confusion about the new configuration will create new challenges as patients, providers and payers work through the changes.

We also encourage you and others to help develop real meaningful improvements by joining PROJECT COPE: Coalition On Patient Empowerment and by sharing ideas, tools and other solutions and other resources. The Coalition For Responsible Health Care Policy provides a resource that concerned Americans can use to share, monitor and discuss the Health Care Reform law and other health care, insurance and related laws, regulations, policies and practices and options for promoting access to quality, affordable healthcare through the design, administration and enforcement of these regulations.

You also may be interested in one or more of the following other recent articles published on the Coalition for Responsible Health Care Reform electronic publication available here, our electronic Solutions Law Press Health Care Update publication available here, and/or our HR & Benefits Update electronic publication available here.

You also can get details about how to arrange for your employees or other communities to participate in training on “Building Your Family’s Health Care Toolkit,”  using the “PlayForLife” resources to organize low-cost wellness programs in your workplace, school, church or other communities, and other process improvement, compliance and other training and other resources for health care providers, employers, health plans, community leaders and others here.

NOTE:  This article is provided for educational purposes.  It is does not provide legal advice, establish any attorney-client relationship or provide or serve as a substitute for legal advice to any individual or organization.  Readers must engage properly qualified legal counsel to secure legal advice about the rules discussed in light of specific circumstances.ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, or (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.  ©2016 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C. Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.