Fighting The Spin

You have heard the statements. People will die if ObamaCare is repealed. Those deaths will be on Republicans hands. Neither one of these statements is true, but I am willing to bet you have heard them reported as news.

On Friday Townhall posted an article about the ObamaCare replacement bill that passed the House of Representatives.

The article reports:

…But based on rhetoric from elected Democrats and the Left generally, one might assume that Obamacare was called the “Pre-existing Conditions Coverage Act” (side-stepping the whole “choice and affordability” fairy tale they peddled), and that the Republican bill obliterates those protections. The proposed law would be a “death warrant” for sick women and children, they shriek, casting Obamacare opponents as the moral equivalent of accessories to murder. This is demagogic, hyperbolic, inaccurate nonsense. To review the actual facts, even under an exceedingly unlikely scenario in which the Senate passed the House bill without making a single alteration, people with pre-existing conditions are offered several layers of protection:

There are a few layers of protection to make sure no one is left uncovered. The article explains:

Layer One: Insurers are required to sell plans to all comers, including those with pre-existing conditions. This is known as “guaranteed issue,” and it’s mandated in the AHCA. No exceptions, no waivers. I spoke with an informed conservative news consumer earlier who was stunned to learn that this was the case, having been subjected to 24 hours of unhinged rhetoric from the Left.

Layer Two: Anyone with a pre-existing condition and who lives in a state that does not seek an optional waiver from the AHCA’s (and Obamacare’s) “community rating” regulation cannot be charged more than other people for a new plan when they seek to purchase one — which, as established above, insurers are also required to sell them.

Layer Three: Anyone who is insured and remains continuously insured cannot be dropped from their plan due to a pre-existing condition, and cannot be charged more after developing one. So if you’ve been covered, then you change jobs or want to switch plans, carriers must sell you the plan of your choice at the same price point as everyone else. Regardless of your health status. This is true of people in non-waiver and waiver states alike.

Layer Four: If you are uninsured and have a pre-existing condition and live in a state that pursued (and obtained after jumping through hoops) a “community rating” waiver, your state is required to give you access to a “high risk pool” fund to help you pay for higher premiums. The AHCA earmarks nearly $130 billion for these sorts of patient stability funds over ten years.

The article goes on to explain that the healthcare bill passed in the House of Representatives is not perfect. However, ObamaCare is collapsing rapidly, and something does need to be done. Hopefully some positive revisions will be made in the Senate. Meanwhile, something needed to be done.

Please follow the link above toTownhall to read the entire article. Much of what the mainstream media is reporting about the healthcare bill that passed the House of Representatives is false. It’s important to know the truth.

I Will Be Surprised If ObamaCare Is Repealed

Republicans have the votes to repeal ObamaCare. They have proven that the other sixteen times they voted to repeal ObamaCare. It was safe to vote for repeal before President Trump was sworn in because they knew there would be a veto coming from the White House. Now that there won’t be a veto, they have lost the courage of their convictions (as if they actually have convictions).

ObamaCare is another entitlement program. Getting rid of an entitlement program is almost impossible. The people who are benefiting from the program don’t want to give it up (even though the people paying for it want to get rid of it as soon as possible).  That is why many Republicans want to keep ObamaCare.

Betsy McCaughey, who has actually read the original ObamaCare bill and followed the issue of ObamaCare closely, posted an article at Investor’s Business Daily today.

The article reports:

The House vote on the GOP‘s ObamaCare repeal bill vote is down to the wire, with dozens of Republicans waffling as “undecideds.” What’s the hold-up? Ninety-six percent of people who have to buy their own insurance stand to benefit from this bill, which will likely drive down premiums by double digits.

The remaining 4% — those with pre-existing conditions — will be protected by a federal fund to subsidize their insurance costs. They won’t get priced out of the market, because the fund will pay the lion’s share of their premiums.

But some Republicans are running scared. Although the bill solves two problems — lowering premiums and protecting people with pre-existing conditions — these fence sitters are worried about something else — getting re-elected.

As a member of the New York delegation put it, the issue is “optics.” They’re cowed by the media’s false reports that the GOP is abandoning people with pre-existing conditions.

It is a fact of life that in America we have a political class that would rather get re-elected than do what is best for America. That is one of the main reasons Donald Trump was elected President. Voters hoped he would change that.

The article explains how some individual states have handled healthcare reform:

New York, New Jersey and several other states ruined their individual insurance markets two decades ago by imposing community pricing, which drove out healthy buyers. Lawmakers in those states would be smart to wise up, get a waiver and offer low prices to most buyers. But don’t count on it, at least not in New York.

But several states — Alaska, Minnesota, Idaho and Oklahoma among them — have already acted, without waiting for Congress. They used state funds to help cover the sickest people, and relieve pressure on healthy premium payers. Alaska averted a 40 percent premium hike that way last year.

To summarize: The funding is adequate and the approach works. Spineless politicians whining about “optics” should look in the mirror. What’s they’re really missing is backbone.

The first repeal of ObamaCare bill was a bad bill, and its defeat was a good thing. The courageous (and correct) thing for Congress to do would be to reintroduce one of its past repeal bills and simply let the chips fall where they may. However, as that would take courage, it is highly unlikely.

Throw The Bums Out–All Of Them

The Republicans still don’t get it. They were voted in to repeal ObamaCare and let the free market apply to all Americans. Well, according to an article in The Conservative Review today, they haven’t figured that out yet.

The article reports:

How many times have conservatives criticized Democrats in Congress for exempting themselves from feeling the full effects of Obamacare?

Well, now Republicans in Congress have done the same thing, exempting themselves and their staff from the effects of their own proposed health insurance legislation.

The GOP’s proposed reforms to the Affordable Care Act will permit states to apply for waivers to repeal Obamacare regulations driving up the cost of premiums — regulations like the essential benefits mandates and community rating requirements. The tentative proposal is a compromise between the Freedom Caucus conservatives who want to see Obamacare fully repealed and the party moderates who want Obamacare regulations to remain in place. On the face of it, the idea is “if you can’t fix it, federalize it.”

Unless the Republican Party fully repeals ObamaCare and puts Congress under the same healthcare program as the rest of America, they will be voted out of office as soon as possible. I will work hard to do this. If they are going to do the same corrupt things and the Democrats, why should we vote for them? Who do they actually represent? Thank God for the Freedom Caucus. May they stand strong again.

The article concludes:

Republicans are trying to sell something to the American people they don’t want to buy themselves. Is it any wonder 50 percent of Americans have “little or no confidence” in the Republican plan to reform health care? Not even Republicans believe in it!

The Individual States Are Laboratories To Determine The Best Policies

For whatever reason, the Republicans seem to have a problem keeping their campaign pledge to repeal ObamaCare. For some reason, they just can’t seem to bring up any one of the many bills they passed to repeal ObamaCare in the past when they knew the President would veto the bill. They are behaving like cowards. The problem is not the Freedom Caucus; the problem is the establishment Republicans who, like the Democrats, love bigger government. At any rate, the states have shown the way to repeal ObamaCare.

On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial showing how various states have dealt with various aspects of ObamaCare.

The editorial explains:

In the early 1990s, several states adopted “guaranteed issue” (which banned insurers from turning anyone down for health reasons) and “community rating” (which banned insurers from charging the sick more than the healthy).

As with ObamaCare, these regulations banned insurers from denying coverage or charging people more because they were sick. Like ObamaCare, these reforms were popular with the public.

And, just like ObamaCare, they all caused their individual insurance markets to collapse, as premiums skyrocketed and insurers fled the markets.

So what happened?

Of 10 states that adopted ObamaCare-style market regulations, four repealed their “guaranteed issue” and “community rating” regulations altogether, according to a detailed analysis by Milliman in 2012.

New Hampshire, for example, adopted these protections in 1994. By 2000, only two insurance companies were writing individual policies in the state, and by 2001, only 3% of the state’s non-elderly population were enrolled in an individual insurance plan, down from 7.6% before the reforms kicked in.

The editorial goes on to explain that when the regulations were repealed in 2002 and a high-risk pool created for those with pre-existing conditions, more people bought insurance. By 2010, 8.5% of the population were buying on the individual market.

The editorial cites a similar experience in Kentucky:

Kentucky likewise abandoned these protections six years after adopting them, and after making various modifications in hopes to get the rules to work. When Kentucky first imposed guaranteed issue and community rating in 1994, there were more than 40 insurers in the state’s individual market. By 1996, only one was left.

Iowa and South Dakota also ditched their guaranteed issue and community rating reforms within nine years of enacting them. Washington weakened its guaranteed issue provision in 2000.

The editorial concludes:

These states show that repealing blanket “guaranteed issue” protections is politically possible, that it will restore the individual insurance market to health, and that there are other, better ways to take care of the sick.

The free market works every time it is tried!

The government does very few things well. Right now I can’t think of any of them. I am reminded of the Milton Friedman quote:

“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand”

We need to keep that quote in mind when Congress talks about expanding government programs.

Why The Support For Repealing ObamaCare Was Not There On Friday

Yesterday The Conservative Review posted an article about the fact that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pulled the bill to repeal ObamaCare because there were not enough votes to pass it. Well, that’s what happens when you change the rules in the middle of the game.

The article quotes a statement made by Speaker Ryan in January of 2016 after Obama vetoed the bill:

It’s no surprise that someone named Obama vetoed a bill repealing Obamacare, and we will hold a vote to override this veto. Taking this process all the way to the end under the Constitution. But here’s the thing the idea that Obamacare is the law of the land for good is a myth. This law will collapse under its own weight or it will be repealed. Because all those rules and procedures Senate Democrats have used to block us from doing this that’s all history. We have shown now that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare without 60 votes in the Senate. So next year if we’re sending this bill to a republican president it will get signed into law. Obamacare will be gone … [emphasis added]

But the bill they sent to the Republican president (Donald Trump) was not the same bill that they had sent to President Obama.

The article concludes:

This week, Speaker Ryan should abandon his RINOcare bill and bring the 2015 reconciliation bill to the floor of the House for a vote.

It’s time to stop the bait and switch.

Donald Trump is the elected President of the United States. One of the reasons he was elected was that the voters were tired of the kind of behavior illustrated by Speaker Ryan. The problem Friday was the broken promise of Speaker Ryan–it was not the Freedom Caucus who expected Speaker Ryan to keep his word.

Three Phases Of HealthCare Reform Might Not Work

Townhall posted an article this morning about the Republican plan to reform ObamaCare. The current plan being discussed does not replace ObamaCare–it merely tweeks it a bit and changes the name.

The article quotes Senator Tom Cotton:

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), one of many skeptical Republicans, told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday that the three-phase process is a myth. What we see right now is what we get.

“Hugh, there is no three-phase process,” Cotton said. “There is no three-step plan. That is just political talk. It’s just politicians engaging in spin. This is why. Step one is a bill that can pass with 51 votes in the Senate. That’s what we’re working on right now. Step two, as yet unwritten regulations by Tom Price, which is going to be subject to court challenge, and therefore, perhaps the whims of the most liberal judge in America. But step three, some mythical legislation in the future that is going to garner Democratic support and help us get over 60 votes in the Senate. If we had those Democratic votes, we wouldn’t need three steps. We would just be doing that right now on this legislation altogether. That’s why it’s so important that we get this legislation right, because there is no step three. And step two is not completely under our control.”

Somehow, when the Republicans were repealing ObamaCare knowing that whatever they did would not make it past President Obama, they were willing to repeal ObamaCare. Now, when their votes actually matter, they seem to be afraid to make a move. Republicans need to realize that even if they do nothing and ObamaCare collapses under its own weight, Republicans will be blamed. That is the nature of the media. ObamaCare was passed by reconciliation, it can be repealed through reconciliation. It is time to get it done.

A Law We Can Understand And Support

Yesterday CSC Media Group, a conservative website, posted an article about S.222, a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Rand Paul. The bill, called the ObamaCare Replacement Act, would repeal and replace ObamaCare. Currently the bill has been referred to the Committee on Finance. The bill is four pages long. The summary of the bill is not yet posted at Thomas.gov, but you can go to Thomas.gov and put in S.222 and read the entire bill. You can also follow the link to the website above and read the bill.

The following is the CSC Summary of the bill given in the article:

Legalizes Inexpensive Insurance Plans:

  • Ensures that Americans can purchase the health insurance coverage that best fits their needs.
  • Eliminates Obamacare’s essential health benefits requirement, along with other restrictive coverage and plan requirements, to once again make low-cost insurance options available to American consumers.

Protects Individuals with Pre-Existing Conditions:

  • Provides a two-year open-enrollment period under which individuals with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
  • Restores HIPAA pre-existing conditions protections. Prior to Obamacare, HIPAA guaranteed that those in the group market could obtain continuous health coverage regardless of preexisting conditions.

Helps More People Save To Buy Health Insurance and Cover Medical Costs:

  • Incentivizes savings by authorizing a tax credit (up to $5,000 per taxpayer) for individuals and families that contribute to HSAs.
  • Removes the annual cap on HSAs so individuals can make unlimited contributions.
  • Allows HSA funds to be used to purchase insurance, cover premiums, and more easily afford a broader range of health-related expenses, including prescription and OTC drugs, dietary supplements, nutrition and physical exercise expenses, and direct primary care, among others. 

Guarantees Fair Tax Treatment of Health Insurance:

  • Equalizes the tax treatment of the purchase of health insurance for individuals and employers by allowing individuals to deduct the cost of their health insurance from their income and payroll taxes.
  • Frees more Americans to purchase and maintain insurance apart from their work status.
  • Does not interfere with employer-provided coverage for Americans who prefer those plans.

Helps Individuals Join Together to Purchase Insurance:

  • Expands Association Health Plans (AHPs) to allow small business owners and individuals to band together across state lines through their membership in a trade or professional association to purchase health coverage for their families and employees at a lower cost.
  • Also allows individuals to pool together through any organization to purchase insurance.
  • Widens access to the group market and spreads out the risk, enhancing the ability of individuals and small businesses to decrease costs, increase administrative efficiencies, and further protect those with pre-existing conditions.

Allows the Purchase of Insurance Across State Lines:

  • Creates an interstate market that allows insurers who are licensed to sell policies in one state to offer them to residents of any other state.

Increases State Medicaid Flexibility:

  • Enables states to fully exercise current flexibilities afforded to them through Medicaid waivers for creating innovative state plan designs.

Empowers Physicians:

  • Allows non-economically aligned physicians to negotiate for higher quality health care for their patients.
  • Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow a physician a tax deduction equal to the amount such physician would otherwise charge for charity medical care or uncompensated care due to bad debt, limited to 10% of a physician’s gross income for the taxable year.

Rand Paul is a doctor who practiced medicine for more than ten years before becoming a Senator. I believe he understands the problems involved in health insurance better than most senators. Among other things, his plan allows doctors to treat patients who cannot pay and take a limited tax deduction for providing the services. I think that is a wonderful idea.

This is a healthcare plan I can support.