Changing names keeps this topic off the front page but it’s still lurking out there and EVERYONE will be impacted.
Originally, Obamacare(PPACA) called it the Federal Commission Coordinating Comparative Effectiveness Research (FCCCER). ObamaCare opposition leaders called it the Death Panels. Now it has been officially renamed the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The new name certainly sounds better and the acronym is certainly better when trying to say it on national television. Almost sounds like a private market think tank. I’m getting warm and cozy feelings just saying it now.
The purpose of the “Institute” (cozy again) is to determine where medical dollars are best spent as the inevitable tightening of the belt looms on the horizon. There research is supposed to provide insurers with information, not mandate levels of care. However, there is a time coming when we just won’t do expensive life saving surgeries on 90 years olds or otherwise terminal patients. Morbidly obese people aren’t going to get those knee replacements when they aren’t going to take care of them. Does everyone need an nice electric wheel chair? Maybe not. They will get what Canadians get now, univeral and cheap walkers. The Institute will be the panel determining your options in the future.
The purpose of today’s blog is to let you know who is paying for the “Institute”. The insane will tell you that those nasty thieves at the insurance companies are going to pay fees! The sane know that people pay all taxes, one way or the other. In this case, the Institute will be funded by a trust fund that is financed in part by fees from health plan insurers and self funded plan sponsors. Fees will be collected for plan years ending after September 30, 2012 and before October 1, 2019. (Anyone want to start betting on the date they raid the trust fund and extend this temporary “fee”?)
The fees look like this:
From 10-1-2012 to 9-30-2013 – The fee is equal to $1 per average number of lives insured.
From 10-1-2013 to 9-30-2014 – The fee is equal to $2 per average number of lives insured.
From 10-1-2014 to 9-30-2019 – The fee is equal to $2 per (adjusted for medical inflation) average number of lives insured.
I know it is just a couple of bucks, but they are YOUR bucks and my bucks. Large employers who fully self fund their own benefits even have to pay the fee. And by the way, it is a fee. Taxes are paid to government entities. This Institute was intentionally called a Nonprofit, NonGovernmental organization supported by a trust fund. The fact that it is created and mandated by federal law and supported by forced contributions from the general public doesn’t mean it’s Governmental! (Note: Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, VA and Indian Health are exempt)
You aren’t hearing about this anymore because they changed the name. It’s all about what you call it. FCCCER, Government Death Panels, Taxes have been replaced with cheery, non-instrusive, Patient-Centered, Non Profit, Fee based Institutes! Oh joy!
Paula L. Wilson, RHU, REBC is an insurance agent and benefits consultant in Southern California.