Saturday, March 08, 2008

Bachmann Offers Selective Analysis During Mental Health Debate

Minnesota’s Congressional delegation was front and center on March 5th during the debate concerning the PAUL WELLSTONE MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION EQUITY ACT OF 2007.

Speaking on behalf of the legislation was Jim Ramstad who participated in fourteen listening sessions around the country … and opposing it was Michele Bachmann who cited her life experiences as a "wife of a clinical therapist.” For the record, John Kline expressed his dissatisfaction by offering an amendment to scrap the entire bill. With two Republicans attacking their fellow Republican, Tim Walz spoke in support of Mr. Ramstad’s legislation.

To anyone who saw the event via CSPAN, it was evident that health care reform will not happen while Bachmann and Kline are in Congress.

Bachman argued that the bill would cost too much and Kline argued for the Senate version. As it was pointed out during the debate "scare tactics or offer red herrings to distract from the underlying issues, but one thing is clear, the bill is better for patients than the Senate bill, yet the cost is almost exactly the same.
Republican Senator Norm Coleman said that he considers the House bill to be the stronger version between the two chambers.”

Bachmann cited the CBO estimate "that the cost of these mandates in the private insurance market will total $3 billion annually by 2012.

As a point of reference, the financial cost for the activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the war on terrorism, another CBO reports If the Administration’s request for 2008 is funded in full, appropriations for those purposes will rise to $188 billion this year and to a cumulative total of $752 billion since 2001. (An additional $40 billion has been appropriated for diplomatic activities and foreign aid over that period.)”
Essentially, then the cost of less than one week would cover this legislation that would potentially be impose on the private sector.
And another sidenote, that was pointed out in the debate : "This bill will also help our servicemembers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as they transition to civilian life because national barriers to mental health care ripple out to everyone. Post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related conditions can take months, if not years, to develop after discharge. Many of these veterans will not have access to VA health facilities and will rely upon private health insurance to obtain treatment.

That aside, while Bachmann elected to site the $3 billion price, she did not put it in perspective of the impact to existing premiums. The CBO report also stated : "We estimate that the direct costs of the additional services that would be newly covered by insurance because of the mandate would equal about 0.4 percent of employer-sponsored health insurance premiums compared to having no mandate at all.
Since Bachmann stated that ”the average premium families' paid last year $12,106” then the potential would be $48.06 per year. In reality, we know that the cost of most employer-sponsored plans are actually borne by the consumer, the employee may not even pay that.

The CBO also states some potential offsets, such that the .4 percent may actually be closer to .2 percent.

Bachmann’s points were disputed by Jim Ramstad who cited a Wall Street Journal report :” If you don't believe the Wall Street Journal, certainly those on our side of the aisle, what do you believe? Cost businesses $70 billion, just depression, untreated depression alone.
Mr. Speaker, all the empirical data, including all the actuarial studies, show that equity for mental health and addiction treatment will save literally billions of dollars nationally. At the same time, it will not raise premiums more than two-tenths of 1 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That's our own CBO numbers. So, I don't know where these people are getting these numbers, these inflated cost figures. Pulling them out of thin air is the only thing I can surmise.
The CBO says it will not raise premiums more than two-tenths of 1percent. In other words, for the price of a cheap cup of coffee per month, several million Americans in health plans can receive treatment for chemical addiction and mental illness. And it's unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, that some opponents of this legislation have misrepresented the costs of enacting parity.

Jim Ramstad’s voice will be sorely missed in the next congress.

The first sixteen minutes of the Clinton-Obama debate at Cleveland State concerned health care. Akin to debating whether a cake should have cream cheese or butter cream frosting when you haven’t even acquired the cake ingredients, it is preposterous to debate the finite details of health care policy when House Republicans proved in the Mental Health legislation that they are unwilling to support anything.


Marcus said...

Wife of a clinical therapist??? Try wife of a faith-healing quack with a degree from a mail-order university.

Marcus said...

Make that wife of a faith-healing quack with a degree from a mail-order university who provides no health insurance benefits for the employees of his pray-away-the-gay clinic.