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What hope is there?

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    johnnycee --

    I don't think you understand the Affordable Care Act and you don't understand Medicare and Medicare Advantage. You have not taken the time to think this through. All you want to do is blame Obama and Obamacare again and again for your rate increase that is probably comparing apples and oranges.

    You have chosen to ignore or dismiss my post above describing all the Republican input that is contained in the bipartisan effort to craft the ACA. Nothing that you say about ramming this through the Senate without Republican input is true or makes sense. It is all false talking points from Fox News. Republicans were against this law from the get go and they did everything to water it down with amendments (161 of them) and delay, delay, delay, sabotage it or kill it before it could see the light of day....and now attack it almost daily since it has become law.

    But getting back to your personal complaint, I'll repeat again. The Medicare and Medicare Advantage total rate of $700 you pay has absolutely nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act. You keep wanting to make that connection so you can blast Obamacare. If the ACA didn't exist you would still be paying $700 per month. If Obama wasn't President you would still be paying the $700 per month. If John McCain or Mitt Romney was president you would still be paying $700 per month. Medicare Advantage has been in place since 1997 and little has changed in the last 16 years...slight rate increases more in line with inflation. To blame an increase in your overall insurance rate on the ACA when you turned 65 and went on Medicare is bull puckey. If someone is feeding you that line, then they are lying.

    I recall we had this same conversation a year ago, and you didn't change your mind one bit in the past year. This is the exact bull crap that Roger Ailes and his Fox News propaganda machine is pushing.

    For me to explain this again and again...well, it's like talking to a stump.
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    L.A. Citizen Wrote: And I say to again...the progressive moment pushed for the ACA...HIS BASE. Stop complaining........Obama doesn't wield a wand. You know that. Stop complaining. You sound like Limbaugh
    I wish I had Limbaugh's money then I would not have to worry about the ACA, as for complaining, it's the American way, it's almost a constitutional right, and you are right about the wand though, he doesn't have one although sometimes I think he thinks he needs a scepter to establish his authority over the USA.
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    Schmidt Wrote: johnnycee --

    I don't think you understand the Affordable Care Act and you don't understand Medicare and Medicare Advantage. You have not taken the time to think this through. All you want to do is blame Obama and Obamacare again and again for your rate increase that is probably comparing apples and oranges.

    You have chosen to ignore or dismiss my post above describing all the Republican input that is contained in the bipartisan effort to craft the ACA. Nothing that you say about ramming this through the Senate without Republican input is true or makes sense. It is all false talking points from Fox News. Republicans were against this law from the get go and they did everything to water it down with amendments (161 of them) and delay, delay, delay, sabotage it or kill it before it could see the light of day....and now attack it almost daily since it has become law.

    But getting back to your personal complaint, I'll repeat again. The Medicare and Medicare Advantage total rate of $700 you pay has absolutely nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act. You keep wanting to make that connection so you can blast Obamacare. If the ACA didn't exist you would still be paying $700 per month. If Obama wasn't President you would still be paying the $700 per month. If John McCain or Mitt Romney was president you would still be paying $700 per month. Medicare Advantage has been in place since 1997 and little has changed in the last 16 years...slight rate increases more in line with inflation. To blame an increase in your overall insurance rate on the ACA when you turned 65 and went on Medicare is bull puckey. If someone is feeding you that line, then they are lying.

    I recall we had this same conversation a year ago, and you didn't change your mind one bit in the past year. This is the exact bull crap that Roger Ailes and his Fox News propaganda machine is pushing.

    For me to explain this again and again...well, it's like talking to a stump.
    If you think for one moment that there was bipartisan support for this bill then indeed you must be the stump, you continue to believe that if someone has a different view or opinion then yours, they then must be Republicans or at least Fox Political talk show viewers/listeners , it seems you confuse talk shows with news shows, and then form an opinion, as I said before I was able to keep my plan as a retiree at a reduced amount before the ACA... Oh,. I'm sorry you don't listen to stumps. Good day sir, I hope the Kool_Aid wasn't too sweet for you..
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    Johnnycee --

    I went into the city of Philadelphia website to see what kind of plans were being offered before the ACA. I found a 2008 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts conducted on behalf of their city leaders to get their employee pension and health care costs under control. Here are some of their findings:

    Philadelphia’s Quiet Crisis: the Rising Cost of Employee Benefits

    Page 19, Retiree Health Care Benefits

    "For about 50 years, many major cities have been making a very expensive promise to their employees: health care upon retirement. Increasingly, though, the question is being asked: How can cities continue to pay for these costs?

    "In three of the four union plans in Philadelphia, employees pay nothing toward their premiums.

    "In many states and cities, health care coverage runs from the time employees retire until they die. (In general, after Medicare kicks in, the supplementary coverage provided becomes less costly.) In contrast, Philadelphia provides health care benefits for only five years after retirement.

    "Philadelphia’s average retirement age is 57, and the most expensive years are those before Medicare kicks in. Of the cities studied, Philadelphia had the highest retirement health care costs per retiree, at $9,150.

    "City leaders might think about whether they are offering retiree benefits in an optimal way: extensive coverage during the most expensive years followed by no coverage at all later.

    Page 24 Health Care Benefits

    "Right now, Philadelphia has direct control over health coverage for only about 20 percent of its workers. For the rest, negotiated agreements establish per capita payments—which far exceed public and private averages—to unions to provide coverage to their members. This arrangement, which appears to be unique to Philadelphia, constricts the city’s ability to bring down costs. To say that this is an opportunity to find some future savings would be an understatement.

    "But unless the city is able to gain control of the way union plans are managed, its efforts will affect less than one-fifth of the workforce. Absent that control, the city might well insist at the bargaining table that these measures be implemented and that the per capita expense be lowered."
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    There is much more in the report, but following that report Mayor Nutter, starting in 2008, engaged in discussions with city employees and unions on how the city can cut costs of both their long term pensions and health care. I haven't dug into the details, but I saw one report that a series of agreements including "substantial savings in health costs" were made. Much of this was during the very tough years of the Great Recession.

    It would also appear to me that what policies you thought you had on extending health insurance into your retirement years were negotiated away during the city's financial crisis.

    Your change in status therefore was a result of union agreed cuts to the city budget including benefits plans and had not anything to do with Obama or Obamacare.

    The timing of those cuts were probably coincidental with the implementation of different phases of Obamacare...but again had nothing to do with Obamacare. This was and is a city of Philadelphia problem and not a federal problem.
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    Wrong again , I happened to have been a member of the contracting team for both the Philadelphia police team and the Sheriff's office, both contracts were done by Act 111 and Act 2 Arbitrations , the City of Philadelphia negotiates with District council #33 and #47, labor unions representing blue collar and labor , the Fire Department Local #22 also is done by Arbitration, which the City of Philadelphia failed to abide by its contents and avoided paying any new benefits for almost 4 years while the City fought the Arbitrators decision, they lost and had to pay every thing back retroactively , there is another unrepresented group which pretty much gets what the unions gets, although since the other unions still are working without a contract now for 4 years, the mayor authorized the pay raises for that group only, now as for those numbers being skewed is because the mayor is using 2008 numbers because all of the city workers contracts were up, and those contracts were from 2004 to 2008, with no raises in the last year, in late 2008 there were contract extensions given to year 2010, there has been no new contracts since other than the police, sheriff's deputies and the fire department, which whose contract was not implemented until Sept/Oct of this year, that is why those numbers are skewed. The medical benefits for police and deputies included a 5 year paid medical with the option of purchasing more with unused sick time with a very complicated formula, I was able to purchase quite a bit more as I was fortunate to not have had to use much sick time, at the time you could accumulate up to 20 days a year which were cumulative and I used less than 20 days during my entire career. I always said you can lie with numbers but numbers never lie.
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    Not to my knowledge were any medical benefits given back or negotiated away during this time, also the news media is owned by the party machine, the City gave a 3.5 million loan to Philadelphia Newspaper Inc, the publishers of the two newspapers in this city, the local tv news is also dominated by the three major networks and considering that Comcast owns or is part owner of over 50% of the TV stations and whose Chief Financial Officer is none other than David Cohen, the former Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Philadelphia who went on to become Governor of Pa. So I don't expect any real news coming out of this City concerning the political doings to be truthful, Pew Foundation is a very charitable and active social justice group, BTW, one of the family members of the Pew Foundation is a sitting Judge in Philadelphia. Now ask me how Judges are elected (??) in Philadelphia.
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    johnnycee --

    Okay, I was wrong about my assumptions about your benefits being negotiated away. I've done more research on big cities employee and retiree benefits plans negotiated over many years in the past. Philadelphia is not alone. Chicago, Detroit and other big cities are all in the same predicament...city budgets that are projected to be eaten up by retiree benefits...not only health care benefits but also retirement benefits. Some states are also suffering the same predicament...unfunded long term retiree benefits that were negotiated years ago in good faith but are not sustainable. Detroit has filed for bankruptcy citing it's $6 billion unfunded retiree health care liability and its $3.5 billion pension fund shortfall.

    I have to admit that some of the provisions of these unfunded plans were eye openers for me. For example in Chicago, a policeman or fireman could retire at age 55 and receive free health insurance for himself and his wife until he reached Medicare eligibility age 65, and then his Medicare coverage beyond 65 was heavily subsidized by the city.

    The GAO puts out reports that address the problem in the aggregate for states and local government:

    Most Recent State and Local Fiscal Outlook Report

    STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS’ FISCAL OUTLOOK - April 2013 Update

    I extracted this paragraph from the latter report.

    "In the long term, the decline in the sector’s operating balance is primarily driven by the rising health-related costs of state and local expenditures on Medicaid and the cost of health care compensation for state and local government employees and retirees. Since most state and local governments are required to balance their operating budgets, the declining fiscal conditions shown in our simulations continue to suggest that the sector would need to make substantial policy changes to avoid growing fiscal imbalances in the future. That is, absent any intervention or policy changes, state and local governments would face an increasing gap between receipts and expenditures in the coming years."

    Well Detroit is there already.

    I was looking for something that explained the Philadelphia situation, but couldn't find the details. Maybe it's similar to Chicago's new plan that was unveiled by their mayor to fix their long term problems. I should say the plan described below has been highly criticized by city employees and retirees:

    CITY OF CHICAGO 2014 RETIREE HEALTHCARE PLAN –Questions and Answers

    I looked at all these plans and compared them to my own situation in which I also retired early and was able to stay on my employer's plan until I reached age 65. However, during my early retirement phase my health insurance premiums went up because the company said they would no longer pay the employer subsidy. When I reached the magic age of 65 my health care premiums went way down for comparable coverage with Medicare/Medicare Advantage. The reason for that of course is that a portion of the costs covered by Medicare Part A are "free"...that is I paid for them during my lifetime of working.

    If I look at the various new provisions of the City of Chicago plans, I have to admit that I personally would be happy with them in comparison to my own plan and costs. But for a Chicago city retiree that is used to getting heavily subsidized insurance for life, I can see where they don't like it.

    I get back to my original point. Cities like Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia have a fiscal problem that is not going away. Generous retiree benefits including those on early retirement (the average retirement age for a Philadelphia city employee is 57) are a big reason for their problem. Unlike the Federal government, cities need to balance their budgets. To fund the long term retirement benefits they have to either increase locals taxes and fees (very unpopular) or cut costs...services, number of teacher, salaries, etc....or retirement benefits. One or more of those things have to happen or the city will at some point have to declare bankruptcy.

    The city of Philadelphia as a part of their fiscal plan has chosen to cut retirement benefits in addition to cuts in city services, but I don't know those details. I still maintain that those retiree benefits would have to have been cut regardless of who's president or if the Affordable Care Act existed or not. Everyone had to share in the pain. The fact that Obamacare served as a lifeline for cities to dump more costs onto the federal government does not negate the fact that the cuts had to come from somewhere. Obamacare is the convenient scapegoat, but it had nothing to do with Philadelphia's fiscal problems in the first place.
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    Medicare isn't exactly free. I get something like $105 month taken out of my SS for Medicare and I have to pay the same amount on a quarterly basis to CMS for my wife's Medicare as she was not allowed to pay SS taxes when she was employed in MA as a public school teacher under federal law. Fortunately her retirement package includes subsidized group health part B so I get that from her retirement. Things have changed in the past 15-20 years and now everyone pays into SS no matter where they work or whom they work for.
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    pr Wrote: Medicare isn't exactly free. I get something like $105 month taken out of my SS for Medicare and I have to pay the same amount on a quarterly basis to CMS for my wife's Medicare as she was not allowed to pay SS taxes when she was employed in MA as a public school teacher under federal law. Fortunately her retirement package includes subsidized group health part B so I get that from her retirement. Things have changed in the past 15-20 years and now everyone pays into SS no matter where they work or whom they work for.
    Not everyone pays into social security, quite a few government employee's do not pay into social security but those who had a civilian work history prior to their Government job , they fall under the Windfall Elimination Provision, which reduces their Social security check according to the time worked as a government employee, in some cases this can amount up to a 40% reduction in their check. I know our Police officers are affected by this ruling as are other Civil Service personnel. BTW, they still do not pay into Social Security.
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    The City of Philadelphia has always proposed reductions in the pension plan and also the health and welfare fund (Medical Plans) the problem is that they (the city) have not come up with any viable alternatives other than saving money, the last contract proposals/Presentations were over 15 sessions long , the longest on record, and the City comes in with a very high power contract legal team , Paxson. & Dilworth, Et al, the same law firm that the New Jersey Senator Rob Andrews, who has just announced his resignation during an ongoing Ethic's violation investigation, has just become an employee, plus the city's own solicitor staff, these hearings cost the taxpayers millions paid in legal fees and are not off set by any reductions in the various plans because there hasn't been any reductions, the FF's contract cost the City another few million just on appealing the binding arbitration award, which still stands, if the City really wanst to save money then they have to agree to realistic savings, and to stop demonizing the Unions, Mayor Nutter seems to have forgotten the fact that there are roughly only 47% of the citizens who are home owners, these are the same folks who pay for most of the cities services including the school district via property taxes, and up until 3 years ago certain city employee's were allowed to live outside the city and still keep their city job, most are still not allowed, this lessens the tax base even more, and so many of our citizens are now dependent on State or federal aid , that the property tax revenues are down, so the Administration appeals to the segment of our society that needs these services and warns them of reductions in their free benefits because of the unions. This one of the reasons why there are always contentious hearings, the city will not bargain in good faith. this is evident in the fact that with the exception of binding arbitration, reached only by both sides declaring an impasse, the city has not had any new contracts with any of the other two city unions going on over 4 years now, more if you discount the contract extensions. So its easy to blame the pension shortfall as the problem when in the fact the city has failed to make it's own commitment (money contributions) to the pension fund in years and not one city worker has failed to make their own contribution. It doesn't matter about the percentage of return if you are not putting in sufficient funds to cover the investments.
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    Schmidt Wrote: Let me add a PS to this last post. I believe many Republicans secretly liked the Affordable Care Act in its final form, after all, it was mostly Republican to the core. The only part that was really a Democratic Party idea, the public option, was scuttled by Republicans. However, publicly Republicans had to go with the tribe and vote against it just because like everything else that had Obama's name on it, it MUST be opposed...and scorned.

    Now I'll make a prediction. It's been eight years since Romneycare was passed and it has been an enormous success.

    So after Obama leaves office and the ACA is being touted as an enormous success, Republicans will take credit for it. After all, all the great stuff came right out of Romneycare.

    Mitt Romney will be touted as the father of the Affordable Care Act and they'll just point to the Romneycare to make their case. It will be an easy case to make. Texas will rewrite their text books to make that point.
    Quoting Obama in his interview with Charles Barkley yesterday.

    Around the halfway point of the interview, Barkley's questions took on a more serious tone. He asked the president what he thought of the term "Obamacare." The president was blunt in his response.

    "I like it," Obama said. "I don't mind. And I tell ya, five years from now, when everyone's saying, 'Man, I'm sure glad we got healthcare,' there's going to be a whole bunch of people who don't call it Obamacare anymore because they don't want me to get the credit. You don't know what life will throw at you. Sometimes people don't recognize, particularly young people, how important it is to have coverage until you get sick and you realize you may lose everything you have, or your parents may lose everything they have trying to make you well. So we're encouraging people to sign up. They've got until March 31 to sign up for this year."

    I added the bolding...
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    Now I've got a question... Does anyone think the ACA will really make one bit of difference? Its simply a new tax hidden in pretty wrapping. The people who don't have health care currently, by and large, don't have it because they can't afford it. When a truck driver is expected to pay over 200 dollars towards company health insurance and the government's 'subsidy' is only 35 dollars, do you really think that 35 dollars is going to help the truck driver be able to afford the insurance? (Stats from a friend of mine who is a truck driver. He's asked me to keep his name and company name out of the forum) Don't believe its a tax? Just ask yourself, who is in charge of enforcement? Fact is that insurance rates have risen. Look at California, where they were saying (before the ACA started) that rate premiums would decrease. They INCREASED 64 to 146%. Wow, who could have predicted that? The answer... Anyone who pays attention to history. Schmidt might remember when they made Auto insurance mandatory here in Colorado. What happened then? Insurance premiums raised by about 200% over night. I don't care which side came up with the ACA, its a bad idea and doesn't change anything, just makes us pay another tax.