Senator McCaskill urges unions to promote the truth about the Affordable Care Act

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LISTENING TO THE CONCERNS of working families, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill hears from Graphic Communications Local 6-505M President Chico Humes (front row, at right) about concerns his members and other union families have about health care. Senator McCaskill said she understood those concerns because so many don’t yet understand the many benefits the new health care law has for working families. She was talking to a group of union business managers and business representatives last week at Sheet Metal Workers Local 36’s new training/union office facilities. – Labor Tribune photo

Castigates Republicans for ‘Sticking up for freeloaders’

By TIM ROWDEN

Staff Writer

St. Louis – “I’ve never known Republicans to do this much sticking up for freeloaders,” Senator Claire McCaskill quipped at a meeting of union leaders and officers last week.

She was referring to the fact that many people, who can afford it, don’t buy health insurance because they know they can go to the emergency room and get it for free. They are truly “freeloaders” on everyone else because everyone who does have health insurance pays those costs. And that’s who the Republicans are encouraging when they fight - purely for political reasons to defeat President Obama — against the new health care law  – the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – that really will help working families.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: What many forget is that many of the key aspects of the new health care law were actually Republican proposals when George Bush was president, the vary same proposals they now say are ‘bad’ for America, adding credibility to the charge that they are simply playing politics, not doing what’s best for America!)

Senator McCaskill urged union leaders to promote the truth about what’s in the new health care law and what it will do for working families while exposing the lies that are being spread by Republicans about it.

SHE’S LISTENING

Speaking with a group of labor leaders, officers and shop stewards last week at Sheet Metal Workers Local 36’s new headquarters and training center, McCaskill heard the concerns that union leaders and union families have about health care, now and into the future.

 McCaskill said she understood those concerns because so many don’t yet understand the many positive benefits the new health care law has for working families.

“There’s so much misinformation out there about this bill,” McCaskill said, perpetrated by a constant Republican negative ad campaign that’s full of lies.

“The new law is not a government take over.”

Referring to opponents of the mandatory provisions of the new law, McCaskill said, “We already have a mandate.”

That mandate, she said, comes in the form of uninsured Americans going to the emergency room for medical care because they can’t afford health insurance. Then the hospitals pass the cost of their treatment on to insurance companies, which raise everyone’s premiums.

“The more people that don’t have insurance, the more expensive ours is going to get, the more expensive your members’ policies are going to get, the more expensive it is for employers,” McCaskill said. “If we don’t break that cycle, we’re in trouble.”

THE PROBLEM/SOLUTION

Depending on the policy, health insurance now for a single adult costs at least $10,000 annually. For a family, it can be double that amount. Low-wage workers rarely have insurance provided at work and can’t afford to buy it, she pointed out

What the new health care law will do, McCaskill said, “is make it affordable for everyone to get insurance, and that, in turn, will drive costs down. That’s the goal, plain and simple.

“This bill is designed to get more healthy people into the (insurance) pool at an affordable price by giving them someplace they can buy affordable health insurance.” This then pools the risk for everyone, the healthy and the ill.

“There’s not a government plan in the new law. When you shop for insurance on the new yet-to-be-created health exchanges, it’s all private insurance companies. There is no public option. There is no universal (coverage). This is all private market.

“But it’s going to be pooling risk for a lot of people who don’t have insurance through work. And you’re going to get help from the government on premiums based on what your income is. So for a lot of people, they’re going to be able to afford it, and the government will help out.”

LIES ABOUT THE ACA

Opponents of the ACA are spreading misinformation and outright lies about what’s in it, McCaskill said.

She explained the truth about some of the top lies:

• The ACA will have little or no effect on your current insurance system at work.

  • • It’s not a government plan.
  • • You can buy insurance in states other than your own.
  • • It’s not run by Washington. The uninsured will be able to purchase affordable insurance through state exchanges, which will simply be web sites where insurance companies from all over the country will offer a variety of health insurance policies. For those state who refuse to set up an exchange, the government will have one available to all.

• Members of Congress are not exempt. They will have to shop for insurance on the exchanges, just like everybody else.

Those are just a few of the mistruths out there, McCaskill said.

HELP FOR ALL

Some key provisions of the law that benefit working families include:

Elimination of pre-existing conditions.  If you have a pre-existing condition, you cannot now be denied insurance.

Continuation of young adults on their parents health insurance plan until age 26. This is important for young adults just getting started and still looking for a good paying job with health insurance.

Elimination of the lifetime cap on coverage.

Spending 85 cents out of every dollar on health care benefits – not on profits, CEO salaries and perks, marketing or administrative costs. Those that go over that amount have to pay rebates or “efficiency” refunds to their policyholders. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Many will begin seeing these refunds this year; many more next year.)

• Limiting to nine percent of your adjusted gross income the amount you’ll have to pay for insurance on the exchange. Anything over that and the government will give you a tax credit.

RE-ELECTION CHALLENGE

McCaskill faces a re-election challenge in November. She has already had to endure an onslaught of million of dollars in negative advertising paid for by Republican “Super Pacs” from elsewhere in the country orchestrated by Karl Rove and other GOP strategists from the previous Bush administration.

“When people find out what these guys are for, it is remarkable how the independent voters go ‘Uh-uh. We don’t want to go there.’

“The big three issues that really moves voters are when they find out my Republican opponents all want to privatize Medicare, privatize Social Security and do away with any kind of federal student loans,” McCaskill said.

“In their rush to win a very, very conservative Republican primary, they have completely lost sight of the middle.”

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