Is The Goal Still To Make Health Care Affordable?

No one can be certain how the average American will be affected by the health care bill approved last week by the U.S. House of Representatives.
That’s because the measure has not yet been analyzed by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, something critics say should have been a necessary first step.
Nevertheless, we know the bill’s key provisions.
According to a report from National Public Radio, the measure would eliminate penalties for failing to buy health insurance. It also would eliminate the requirement that those using federal tax credits buy insurance through the marketplaces created under Obamacare.
Instead, the measure would encourage people to maintain coverage by prohibiting insurance companies from cutting them off or charging more for pre-existing conditions as long as their insurance didn’t lapse. If coverage were interrupted for more than 63 days, insurers would be able to charge a 30% penalty for a year.
The bill would eliminate income-based tax credits and replace them with age-based credits ranging from $2,000 a year for people in their 20’s to $4,000 a year for those older than 60.
An interactive map put together by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows the impact in 2020 for individuals across the country.
As a general rule, younger people would save money under the plan, while older people would pay more.
The map shows a 40-year-old making $50,000 a year in Jackson County would save $3,000 under the proposed bill, seeing his or her share of annual premiums drop from $4,010 to $1,010 after the $3,000 tax credit. A 60-year-old with the same income, meanwhile, would see premiums go up 46% from the Affordable Care Act to $7,430 after the $4,000 tax credit under the American Health Care Act.
You can find a bunch of other numbers— and lots of other information about the proposed new law— by visiting the foundation’s website at
From what I can tell, the impact seems hardest for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
According to the foundation’s map, a Jackson County resident making $20,000 a year pays a premium of $960, or about 5 percent of annual income under the Affordable Care Act.
Under the recently House approved American Health Care Act, the same person earning that same amount would pay $1,190, or about 6 percent of annual income. A 60-year-old with the same income would pay $8,040, or more than 40% of his or her annual income.
That seems unsustainable.
The bill maintains protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but it allows states to opt out. States could apply for waivers that would allow insurance companies to charge older people more than five times what they charge younger people for the same policy, and they could eliminate the so-called essential health benefits, including maternity care and mental health coverage.
The bill would also allow insurance companies to offer policies with annual and lifetime benefit limits, options that are banned under the Affordable Care Act.
The bill does require states to provide a way for people with pre-existing conditions to obtain coverage, and it allocates up to $138 billion over 10 years to fund such programs. But analysis released this week by Avalere Health concluded that that amount wouldn’t be enough to provide full coverage for those with pre-existing conditions now buying insurance through the individual market.
Say what you will about Obamacare, but the law’s goal was to make medical care available to everyone.
Does that remain the goal of the law’s replacement? If so, the measure seems to be coming up short.
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Kelly Hawes, of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star contributed to the research for this column.

So What Have You Learned?

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

We never quit learning. I have learned a lot about people over my six+ decades around the area. Good friends recently shared what they have learned over the years…all life observances
I’ve learned…
•That just one person saying to me, “You’ve made my day!” makes my day.
•That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person. (Of course, now that I are one, no one wants to listen.)
•That being kind is more important than being right.
•That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him in any other way.
•That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
•That money doesn’t buy class. (But it can make you presidential.)
• That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
• That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.
•That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so interesting.
•That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
•That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones
you miss.
•That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.
•That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

To Err Is Human…

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

This is another encore column from the Curt Comments archives.
We make our share of boo-boos in the newspaper industry. Actually, at the Crothersville Times we are above average in the boo-boo department.
But unlike other businesses, government or education, when we err it is done in a public forum for everyone to see. No executive sessions, no cover-ups, no privileged information. We err for all to see. Our misteaks…errr…mistakes have no way of being covered up, sugar coated, or downplayed like in other sectors.
Mrs. Lewis, my high school English teacher, probably just looks down from above rolls her eyes and shakes her head. “I tried my best to teach him better,” she might be saying.
But there are other forums where grammar, dangling modifiers, and misplaced participles (or is it misplaced modifier and dangling participle?) occasionally crop up. Church bulletins are another source for well-meaning, unintentional gaffs.
I want to be very clear, none of these ‘oopsies’ came from any of our local churches. As far as I can tell, like a literary guardian angel Mrs. Lewis looks over the shoulder of all of the area’s church bulletin preparers as local bulletins always have correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
These are offered as evidence that God does have a sense of humor.
•Don’t let worry kill you. Let the church help.
•While the Pastor is on vacation, massages can be given to the church secretary.
•The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of all kinds and they may be seen in the church basement every Friday.
•A new loudspeaker system has been installed in the church. It was given by one of the members in honor of his wife.
•Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. Please use the large double doors at the side entrance of the church.
•The choir invites any member who enjoys it to join the choir in sinning on Sunday.
•Irving Bettson and Jessie Smith were married on Oct. 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
•The Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S.
•At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.
•The church’s new tithing campaign has a new slogan: “I upped my pledge—Now Up Yours.”

I Don’t Mean To Bore You But…

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

(This week’s column is an encore offering from the Curt Comment archives.)
Have you ever noticed how diametrically opposed we sometimes speak?
When someone says, “Not to change the subject, but…” what is the next thing they do? They change the subject.
And when someone says “I don’t want to start an argument, but…” whereupon an intense, heated discussion of opinions erupts.
Then there are times when you may engrossed in some activity—reading, watching TV, working on the computer—and a spouse, child, parent, sibling comes to you saying “I don’t want to disturb you but…” and then what is said disturbs you.
Or worse, when others say, “Now I don’t want to make you mad, but…” and of course the blood pressure begins to rise.
And when you hear “I don’t mean to criticize, but…” you’d better quickly put on your thick skin.
While sitting in the plethora of public meetings we’ve covered over the years, I’ve learned that whenever the speaker says, “I don’t mean to belabor the point, but…” he/she then drones on for another period of time obviously enjoying the sound of his/her voice while the dead horse is beaten further.
And when it comes down to you and a member of the boss’ family who are vying for a promotion, when the boss says, “I don’t mean to play favorites, but…” you shouldn’t count on any increase in your paycheck.
And when your soon-to-be ex-best friend says, “I don’t mean to be too personal, but…” I am sure they will eventually understand why you no longer accept their telephone calls.
And as for this week’s column, “I don’t mean to take up your time, but…”

I’m Doing It Wrong

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

I sometimes do not know if I am being pranked or edified by information on the internet. Unlike some people, I do not believe everything on the internet, TV or radio. Heck, I am even suspect of the stuff I read in this newspaper.
Apparently I am squeezing my lemons and limes all wrong. Rather than using my hand I am supposed to warm them in the microwave then use tongs for better leverage.
Other stuff I do that is wrong:
•Scooping ice cream. Instead use a knife and cut ice cream into slices.
•Not maximizing the paper ketchup cup. If you fan out those fluted paper ketchup cups at the fast food place they hold more and you can more easily access them for french fry dipping.
•The aluminum tab on a can of pop can be used to hold your drinking straw. I don’t use a straw out in the woods. The squirrels and chipmunks would think I am being hoity-toity.
•You are supposed to store peanut butter jars upside down to better distribute the oils.
•Hold it! There are little tabs on the end of foil, wax paper and plastic wrap boxes that can be shoved in to hold the roll in the box.
•A staple remover can be used to open up key rings so you don’t break a fingernail.
•Your supposed to use a pea size dab of toothpaste and you are not supposed to rinse after you brush. (If it is all the same to you, I will keep doing it wrong.)
•If you rest a wooden spoon over the top of your pots while you’re cooking it will prevent spillover when things boil. The wood is suppose to pop the boiling bubbles. It does some but not all.
•Peeling a banana. Learn from the monkeys: pinch the bottom on the banana and peel it open. You won’t have to pick off the banana strings. I tried this. I ended up eating mushed up banana.
All information sources are only as good as the pranksters sharing the information. Use this advice at your own peril.

Thoughts Found Here You May Not Like

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

I am getting over a nasty cold. Or speaking more precisely, I am getting over the effects of the drugs that I took to alleviate the symptoms of my nasty cold.
My doctor once told me that a cold lasts for about a week. Or you can take some medicine and it will last about seven days.
But I have found in life that sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. Maybe I should have just run around like a two-year-old with snot dripping. (Okay, a snotty handlebar moustache is not even a pretty thing for me to think about). But the hollowheadedness from the residual cold drugs hangs around way too long.
Since I am not thinking so clear (warning to my detractors: mind your comments carefully), I will offer you some wisdom from other writers on dealing with adversity. Metaphorically, the adversity of cold drugs.
“Some men storm imaginary Alps all their lives and die in the foothills cursing difficulties which do not exist.”   ~Edgar Watson Howe
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”        ~Mark Twain
“Suffering is one of the ways of knowing you’re alive.”    ~Jessamyn West
“God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars.”    ~Elbert Hubbard
“It’s easy to be independent when you’ve got money. But to be independent when you haven’t got a thing—that’s the Lord’s test.”    ~Mahalia Jackson
“I personally think we developed language because of our deep need to complain.”          ~Lily Tomlin
“Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of something bad.”                 ~Harry Caray
“From those who have never sailed come the quickest and harshest judgments on bad seamanship in harsh seas.”     ~Susan Glaspell
“It’s no use to grumble and complain, it’s just as cheap and easy to rejoice;
When God sorts out the weather and sends rain—why, rain’s my choice.”   ~James Whitcomb Riley