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President Obamas Health Care Reform Could Be a Bust for Baby Boomers

June 20th, 2009
President Obama’s promise for universal health care is lead off by Senator Edward Kennedy requiring the federal government to subsidize insurance premiums.

President Obama's
Health Care Reform
Could Be a Bust for Baby Boomers

President Obama’s promise for Universal Health Care is lead off by Senator Edward Kennedy's (D-MA) mail bill  requiring the federal government to subsidize insurance premiums for families of four with incomes up to $100,000.

This summer the Congress will start in earnest the effort to enact President Obama’s promise for universal health care.  Many in the mainstream media repeat the meme that this effort will finally ensure quality health care for all Americans, but the truth is that it will more likely lower the quality of coverage for many Americans especially those boomers reliant on advanced medicines.

Besides creating a federally run insurance network – the so called “public option” – to  compete with existing private sector insurance, the main bill introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) requires the federal government to subsidize insurance premiums for families of four with incomes up to $100,000. 

The Plan creates a national mandate for every American to obtain health insurance with penalties on as many as 5 million Americans who don’t have coverage (although the bill does include an “exceptional financial hardship” exemption for a few). 

Not leaving employers out of the picture, the bill places a similar mandate on all medium and large businesses forcing them to provide coverage and it expands Medicaid to cover people with incomes up to 150 percent of the poverty level ($16,245 for an individual and $33,075 for a family of four). 

Perhaps the most significant change is the additional cost controls his bill places on the existing insurance sector including eliminating nearly all options for insurers to either deny or price different applicants according to their health needs. Taken together these changes will lead to radically different treatment tomorrow for boomers who already have coverage.  For these individuals the changes could be deadly. 

One particular area of concern is the potential changes in access to life saving statins - a class of drugs that lowers cholesterol levels for those at risk of heart disease - that will come as a result of this bill. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States and any changes to our health care system should improve this situation, not exacerbate it. 

Proposed changes in Senator Kennedy’s bill will likely limit or reduce access to life saving statins for boomers who currently have coverage which is likely to lead to more deaths, not fewer.  Why?  The cost sharing and non-discrimination mandate which will herd high risk and already ill patients into the pre-existing insurance pool provided in Kennedy’s bill will force insurers to reduce coverage and spend less per patient.   

This means that boomers will face an even greater array of restrictions on the choices of doctors and medical care they receive than they do at present.

Like many pharmaceuticals, there are a variety of cholesterol-lowering statin medications and they each have different benefits and uses.   Different patients with different risk factors require different medications.  It is those attributes – gender, race, family history, age – and other medical risk factors which have always been the primary decision drivers for prescribing statins.

But because Kennedy’s bill requires rationing to achieve its goals, the cost of statin medications will drive health care decisions, not patient needs.  Getting all patients including boomers to meet or exceed their cholesterol goals should be the priority, not assuming that the cheapest statin medication is the best. 

Just as night follows day, the insurance sector will respond to these federal mandates by requiring the lowest priced statin to be used regardless of applicability and this will have deadly consequences.  There simply is no good reason for this kind of cost containment experimentation, particularly for the high risk populations that rely on statins.  In the long run it won’t be more cost effective, and it will cost lives. 

The costs for brand name medications and insurance formularies are constantly changing and today most boomers have access to the most effective heart disease medications without realizing it.  Before rushing headlong into a system of government controlled health care layered on top of an already over-regulated industry patients should determine what the impact on their own personal health care needs will occur with these proposed changes. 

Unless dramatic changes are made, this health care bill could prove to be a major bust for Baby Boomers. 

For more information on inheritance and estate planning issues, visit his website:

  Horace Cooper is a writer and legal commentator.
He is also a research fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research and a senior fellow with the American Civil Rights Union. From June 2005 - June 2007 he was a visiting assistant professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. While at GMUSL his research focus was on U.S. intellectual property rights policy, the role of the United States Supreme Court in the American constitutional system, political forecasting, the legislative process and federal labor law. Mr. Cooper has served in senior capacities in the George W. Bush Administration including stints as chief of staff at the Voice of America and the Dept of Labor’s Employment Standards Administration. Horace Cooper previously served as Counsel to the Honorable Richard K. Armey, (Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives from 1994 - 2002). Mr. Cooper’s interests include current issues involving law and American society, political forecasting, and the changing makeup of the United States Supreme Court.

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Article by:
Horace Cooper



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