Somehow I Can’t Find This In The Mainstream Media

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an editorial about a recent action by the Trump administration.

The editorial notes:

We’ve been told by supposed left-wing gay and transgender rights advocates, such as the oddly-named Human Rights Campaign, that President Trump is the “most anti-LGBTQ president ever.” The same activists also recently said that Mike Pence is the most “anti-LGBTQ” vice president in American history — yes, seriously. Apparently, we’re actually supposed to believe that the men who occupied the Oval Office during the 19th century were much more woke than Trump and Pence.

But anyway, deranged critics who overlook the positive parts of Trump’s gay rights record are going to have a hard time criticizing the latest move from the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services — although something tells me they will rise to the challenge.

According to Bloomberg Law, HHS began free distribution of the HIV prevention drug Truvada on Monday in honor of World AIDS Day. This health initiative is possible because the Trump administration secured a donation from Truvada manufacturer Gilead for enough medication to cover 200,000 people. This all comes as a part of Trump’s pledge to make HIV prevention medication available for half of the at-risk population by 2025, Bloomberg Law reports.

The editorial concludes:

These aren’t exactly the actions of an anti-gay bigot. Of course, anyone can get HIV, and anyone can benefit from this health initiative, but there’s no doubt that this issue disproportionately affects gay and transgender people. Yet actually, for any level-headed observer, it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the Trump administration actively focused on and working to address issues facing the gay community.

As far as Republicans go, Trump has been arguably the most pro-gay president in history. He openly supports same-sex marriage, and unlike Obama, he supported it when he entered office. His administration has launched an international initiative seeking to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide, and he has appointed gay and lesbian people to high-ranking positions and judicial nominations.

Of course, no one is really saying the Trump administration’s record on issues of gay and transgender rights is perfect. It’s not. But the president’s left-wing critics need to rein in their obnoxious hyperbole and constant catastrophizing on gay rights issues. Until they do, no one should take them seriously.

What those accusing President Trump of being an anti-gay bigot don’t understand is that he seems to hold an almost libertarian view on homosexuality. He supports the rights of Christians to practice their faith, but also supports the rights of gays to their lifestyle. Because of that, he gets criticized from both sides.

A Really Good Idea

On October 24, The Federal Times posted an article about relocating some of the Washington bureaucracy. What a great idea. We need to move some of the people in charge of government agencies closer to the people they are supposed to serve. We also need to break up the concentration of power that is the Washington swamp.

It is not a coincidence that many of the wealthiest counties in America are suburbs of Washington, D.C.

According to Wikipedia (a questionable source, but I suspect this is correct):

Presented below are the 25 highest-income counties (with populations of 65,000 or greater) in the United States by median household income according to the 2016 American Community Survey[4] prepared by the US Census Bureau. Five of the counties are located in the state of Maryland, five are in Virginia, four in California, three in New Jersey, two in New York, and one each in: Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. (Disclaimer: This only includes counties that participated in this single survey)

The Federal Times reports:

The Trump administration’s decision to move three agency components outside the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area has spurred a sizeable amount of controversy, but Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., want to keep going with that trend.

The two senators introduced a bill Oct. 23 that would move about 90 percent of the workforce at the headquarters for 10 federal agencies to other states around the country and pop the “bubble” of D.C. federal employment.

“Every year Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars fund federal agencies that are mainly located in the D.C. bubble. That’s a big part of the problem with Washington: they’re too removed from the rest of America,” said Hawley in a news release.

“The HIRE Act will move policymakers directly into the communities they serve, creating thousands of jobs for local communities and saving taxpayers billions of dollars along the way.”

Under the proposal, the Department of Agriculture would move to Missouri, Commerce to Pennsylvania, Education to Tennessee, Energy to Kentucky, Health and Human Services to Indiana, Housing and Urban Development to Ohio, Interior to New Mexico, Labor to West Virginia, Transportation to Michigan and Veterans Affairs to South Carolina.

Obviously there are objections to this idea. The swamp is not enthusiastic about being split up!

The article concludes:

About 20 percent of D.C. residents are employed directly by the federal government, according to OPM and population data, while each of the 10 states slated for agency relocation under the bill have about .3 to one percent of their populations working for the federal government.

But Washington has an incredibly small population when compared with these states, and even if the entire D.C. federal workforce were to be relocated equally across the 10 states, the state with the lowest percent of federal workforce, Michigan, would only move from .3 percent to .4 percent.

The bill is bound to get strong pushback not only from the Democratically controlled House, which has been opposed to many of the Trump administration’s smaller moves, but also from the Virginia and Maryland members of Congress, whose states and districts would be likely to lose a number of jobs due to a relocation.

Relocation might also clear up the incredible traffic jam that is Washington, D.C. I suspect that it also would be cheaper to run government agencies in places where renting or owning office space would be considerably lower.

This will probably never happen, but it is a great idea.

Shenanigans In North Carolina

Governor Roy Cooper was elected in 2016 and began his term in 2017. Previously he served as North Carolina’s Attorney General. My sources tell me that he runs the Democrat party much the way a mafia don would, using threats to make sure no legislators break ranks in their voting. He also seems to have some problems controlling spending in some of the state agencies.

The Carolina Journal posted an article today citing some of Governor Cooper’s current challenges.

The article reports:

Consider, for example, the current cash crunch at North Carolina’s Department of Transportation. Secretary Jim Trogdon blames the problem on hundreds of millions of dollars of hurricane damage and payouts to property owners whose rights were violated by the state’s abusive Map Act.

While these costs are real, they don’t fully explain DOT’s overspending. An outside consultant’s report dinged the department for faulty forecasting and cash management. State Treasurer Dale Folwell cited the report’s findings as well as DOT’s transfer of $1.1 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to the Highway Fund without his legally required authorization as reasons why Cooper should replace Trogdon.

Rather than responding to these specific concerns, the governor’s press office put out a statement rejecting what it termed “a financial lecture from the nation’s least effective state Treasurer.” DOT’s money woes have complex origins and consequences, to be sure. But Trogdon’s defense neither required nor was advanced by such adolescent name-calling.

Much less money is at stake over at the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, but its recent miscue inflicted more political damage.

The department handles a decades-old program called the N.C. State Scholarship for Children of War Veterans. The department sent out a letter informing colleges and universities that scholarship payments would be “delayed until further notice,” citing the budget impasse between Gov. Cooper and the General Assembly. But according to reporting by WBTV’s Nick Ochsner, there was neither a fiscal nor a legal reason to suspend payment. Whether this was simply an administrative screw-up or a purposeful attempt to pressure GOP lawmakers, it was incredibly foolish.

There are also some questions regarding Medicaid in the state:

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services is mired in its own controversy over awarding a Medicaid contract to a managed-care network led by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina instead of one led by Aetna. In its legal challenge to the decision, Aetna argues that one of the DHHS employees in charge of evaluating the bids was living with a key Blue Cross executive.

Furthermore, according to reporting by Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington, an internal document shows that Aetna’s bid originally ranked above the Blue Cross bid. A DHHS official then intervened to create a new criterion after the fact, which had the effect of displacing Aetna in favor of Blue Cross.

There are also charges that the Governor attempted to obstruct an investigation into some aspects of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The article concludes:

Cooper and three of his aides have been asked to testify on the pipeline at a legislative hearing on November 8. Will the sober-minded former state senator and attorney general show up and provide a persuasive defense of his administration’s conduct? Or will North Carolinians be treated to another round of political hackery and juvenile tweets?

Lt. Governor Dan Forest will be running against Governor Cooper in 2020. Dan Forest definitely has my vote.

 

Fiscal Insanity

The Daily Wire posted an article today about the latest proposal by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The article reports:

The 29-year-old former bartender has unveiled a new six-bill package of legislation titled “A Just Society.”

“A just society provides a living wage, safe working conditions, and healthcare. A just society acknowledges the value of immigrants to our communities. A just society guarantees safe, comfortable, and affordable housing,” says a page on her House website dedicated to the package. “By strengthening our social and economic foundations, we are preparing ourselves to embark on the journey to save our planet by rebuilding our economy and cultivate a just society.”

The package has six parts:

  • “The Place to Prosper Act” would prevent year-over-year rent increases of more than 3%.
  • “The Uplift Workers Act” would mandate that the Department of Labor to create a “worker-friendly score” considering factors such as paid-family leave, a $15 minimum wage and union membership.
  • “The Mercy in Re-entry Act” would grant public benefits to those convicted of criminal offenses.
  • The “Guarantees the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for All” Act does, well, just that.
  • “The Recognizing Poverty Act” orders the Department of Health and Human Services “to adjust the federal poverty line” based on location.
  • “The Embrace Act” would allow illegal aliens to claim the same welfare benefits as all U.S. citizens and legal immigrants.

How about a “just society” where everyone gets to keep what they earn, and those who feel the need to help others are free to do that.

A New York Times article from November 3, 2018, reported the following:

Charitable contributions may be lower in Democratic-leaning counties, but residents support the social safety net through higher taxes.

Note to those who support government programs over private charity–in general private charities are run much more efficiently than government programs. Private charities also have a handle on who genuinely needs help and who has learned how to game the system.

Generally speaking it is never a good idea to take money from people that earn it and give it to people who did not–at best it is de-motivational, at worst it is simple theft.

A Small Step Forward For Americans Filling Prescriptions

Ed Morrissey posted an article at Hot Air today about the new initiative rolled out by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

The article reports:

Democrats ate the GOP’s lunch on health-care messaging in 2018’s midterms. The Trump administration might be preparing better for the 2020 election. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar rolled out a new initiative today that would allow for prescription purchases from Canada, addressing a key Democratic talking point on the cost of health care:

“President Trump has been clear: for too long American patients have been paying exorbitantly high prices for prescription drugs that are made available to other countries at lower prices. When we released the President’s drug pricing blueprint – PDF for putting American patients first, we said we are open to all potential solutions to combat high drug prices that protect patient safety, are effective at delivering lower prices, and respect choice, innovation and access,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “Today’s announcement outlines the pathways the Administration intends to explore to allow safe importation of certain prescription drugs to lower prices and reduce out of pocket costs for American patients. This is the next important step in the Administration’s work to end foreign freeloading and put American patients first.”

The article lists some of the details of the plan. Please follow the link above for more information.

The article also lists some of the problems with the plan:

The question of pharmaceutical importation has its complexities, and it might not be a great idea in terms of long-term policy outcomes. For one thing, drug prices in Canada are artificially low thanks to intervention by the Canadian government, which will be tougher to maintain if demand increases exponentially via re-importation into the US. (Canadians in particular might not be very happy about what happens to their drug prices.) It doesn’t solve the major problems in pharmaceutical production costs, which are consolidation in the industry, copyright issues, and bureaucratic delays in FDA approvals, among others. It’s a Band-Aid over a gaping wound.

However, it’s going to be a very popular Band-Aid in the short run. The new HHS effort also lends itself to a slow rollout, which will play right into Trump’s need to pre-empt Democrats on health care in this cycle…

The article takes a rather cynical view regarding the motive for this action, but at least temporarily many Americans will appreciate the savings. On a personal note, one of the maintenance drugs my husband takes for heart problems sells for $600 a month. With the help of our health insurance, we have managed to get that price down to $70 a month, but the idea of having to pay $600 a month out-of-pocket for a drug is more than a little frightening.

This is a small step in the right direction. I understand that high drug prices are the result of the procedures for the invention, development, and selling of a new drug, but Americans shouldn’t have to pay for all of the research while other people reap the rewards of that research without paying for it.

Helping Solve The Healthcare Problem

It is becoming obvious that the Democrats in Congress are not really interested in solving problems. They have been absent on the border crisis and they have been absent on healthcare and health insurance. Meanwhile, President Trump is making gains in both of those areas.

Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line Blog posted an article about a recent change in health insurance regulations announced by the Department of Health and Human Services. The change will allow businesses to fund employees who buy health insurance on the individual market–something that until now has been illegal.

The article includes the announcement:

Today, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury issued a new policy that will provide hundreds of thousands of employers, including small businesses, a better way to provide health insurance coverage, and millions of American workers more options for health insurance coverage. The Departments issued a final regulation that will expand the use of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). When employers have fully adjusted to the rule, it is estimated this expansion of HRAs will benefit approximately 800,000 employers, including small businesses, and more than 11 million employees and family members, including an estimated 800,000 Americans who were previously uninsured.
***
Under the rule, starting in January 2020, employers will be able to use what are referred to as individual coverage HRAs to provide their workers with tax-preferred funds to pay for the cost of health insurance coverage that workers purchase in the individual market, subject to certain conditions. … Individual coverage HRAs are designed to give working Americans and their families greater control over their healthcare by providing an additional way for employers to finance health insurance.
***
The HRA rule also increases workers’ choice of coverage, increases the portability of coverage, and will generally improve worker economic well-being. This rule will also allow workers to shop for plans in the individual market and select coverage that best meets their needs. … [T]he final rule should spur a more competitive individual market that drives health insurers to deliver better coverage options to consumers.

Moving healthcare and health insurance back to free market principles will be better for everyone–it will increase competition and eventually drive costs down. This is a step in the right direction.

Poverty In America

Below are the U.S. Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines:

This is a chart from The Heritage Foundation showing changes in the poverty rate since 1959:

As you can see, the War on Poverty actually slowed down the decrease in the poverty rate that had begun in 1950.

This is a chart from Pew Research showing how the American family has changed:

First of all, living in poverty in America is not the same as living in poverty in any other part of the world.

The Heritage Foundation reports:

Because the official Census poverty report undercounts welfare income, it fails to provide meaningful information about the actual living conditions of less affluent Americans. The government’s own data show that the actual living conditions of the more than 45 million people deemed “poor” by the Census Bureau differ greatly from popular conceptions of poverty.[7] Consider these facts taken from various government reports:[8]

  • Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, at the beginning of the War on Poverty, only about 12 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Nearly three-quarters have a car or truck; 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.[9]
  • Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television.
  • Two-thirds have at least one DVD player, and a quarter have two or more.
  • Half have a personal computer; one in seven has two or more computers.
  • More than half of poor families with children have a video game system such as an Xbox or PlayStation.
  • Forty-three percent have Internet access.
  • Forty percent have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.
  • A quarter have a digital video recorder system such as a TIVO.
  • Ninety-two percent of poor households have a microwave.

I think it’s time to examine closely the impact of the War on Poverty. One of the differences between business and government is that in business when something doesn’t work, you fix it. In government when something doesn’t work, you simply add more money to it. It is obvious which solution is more effective.

The goal of any poverty program should be to help people develop self-reliance and get out of the poverty program. Obviously that is not happening–we have generations of welfare recipients. Another goal of any poverty program should be to support the family unit. Obviously our current welfare programs do not do that. It’s time to reevaluate and redo our poverty programs–they are breaking the budget and not accomplishing their goals.

In March 2013, The Brookings Institute posted the following three rules to avoid poverty:

First, many poor children come from families that do not give them the kind of support that middle-class children get from their families. Second, as a result, these children enter kindergarten far behind their more advantaged peers and, on average, never catch up and even fall further behind. Third, in addition to the education deficit, poor children are more likely to make bad decisions that lead them to drop out of school, become teen parents, join gangs and break the law.

In addition to the thousands of local and national programs that aim to help young people avoid these life-altering problems, we should figure out more ways to convince young people that their decisions will greatly influence whether they avoid poverty and enter the middle class. Let politicians, schoolteachers and administrators, community leaders, ministers and parents drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities: at least finish high school, get a full-time job and wait until age 21 to get married and have children.

Our research shows that of American adults who followed these three simple rules, only about 2 percent are in poverty and nearly 75 percent have joined the middle class (defined as earning around $55,000 or more per year). There are surely influences other than these principles at play, but following them guides a young adult away from poverty and toward the middle class.

Those three rules should be the foundation of any poverty program.

What Happened To Ethics In Science?

Yesterday CNS News posted an article about research going on at the University of California at San Francisco. This research is so horrific I can’t even believe it is being done in America, much less being partially financed by the government.

The article reports:

The Department of Health and Human Services says it has granted a second 90-day extension to a contract it has with the University of California at San Francisco that requires UCSF to make “humanized mice.”

These creatures are made by implanting mice with human tissues taken from late-term aborted babies.

The HHS’s multi-million-dollar contract with UCSF that requires the construction of these “humanized mice” creates a demand–driven by federal tax dollars–for tissue taken from late-term aborted babies. According to an estimate it has published on its website, the National Institutes of Health (which is a division of HHS) will spend $95 million this fiscal year alone on research that–like UCSF’s “humanized mouse” contract–uses human fetal tissue.

Under the new 90-day extension, the contract—which the government calls “Humanized Mouse Models for HIV Therapeutics Development”–will run through June 5.

HHS also is still in the process of conducting the “comprehensive review” it announced last September “of all research involving fetal tissue.”

It’s bad enough that we are killing the unborn. Now we are using them for scientific experiments. That is beyond repulsive.

Respecting The Wishes Of Pro-Life Americans

On Wednesday, Life News posted an article about some changes the Trump administration has made to ObamaCare health plans.

The article reports:

Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a new rule directing insurers selling Obamacare plans that cover elective abortion to collect a separate payment from enrollees for that coverage, as required by law. Under the Obama administration, insurers were allowed to collect these payments together in violation of clear statutory language.

In 2018, taxpayer-funded Obamacare insurance plans in 24 states and the District of Columbia are allowed to cover elective abortion with an embedded abortion surcharge. In 10 of those states more than 85 percent of Obamacare plans cover abortion on demand, including seven states where every single Obamacare plan for individuals and families covers elective abortion.

I don’t want to make abortion illegal–I want it available on the rare occasions it is medically necessary. However, I don’t want to be forced to pay for abortions that take place simply because a child is an inconvenience.

Because the Senate Republicans broke faith with the American people, we still have ObamaCare. Hopefully that will change in the near future.

The article concludes:

National Right to Life President Carol Tobias added, “We applaud President Trump and his administration for enforcing the law and seeking to uphold the principles of the Hyde Amendment to prevent the use of tax dollars to pay for abortion coverage.”

Another leading pro-life group praised the Trump administration for issuing the new rule.

“We thank President Trump and HHS Secretary Azar for enforcing the law and providing much-needed transparency about Obamacare’s abortion coverage,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, in remarks to LifeNews.

She added: “Obamacare was the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion on demand since Roe. Then, the Obama administration went even further by allowing insurers to ignore the plain language of the law that said an abortion surcharge had to be collected separately. Instead, the Obama administration allowed the “separate” abortion surcharge to be collected along with regular premiums, effectively defining ‘separate’ to mean ‘together.’ Thanks to this trickery, millions of Americans have unwittingly purchased plans without knowing about the hidden abortion surcharge. Consumers deserve to know how Obamacare pays for abortion so they can avoid having their hard-earned dollars used to fund the destruction of innocent lives. Congress must still act to eliminate abortion funding from Obamacare, but until then, the rule issued today is an important step in the right direction.”

The law preventing taxpayers from paying for abortion has been in place for years. Those in Washington need to follow that law.

Walking Away From A Brutal Practice

The Daily Signal is reporting today that the Trump administration has ended a government contract to buy fetal tissue from a research firm and will conduct an audit of any such research subsidized by federal taxpayers.

The article reports:

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration signed a one-year, $15,900 contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources to acquire human fetal tissue “for implantation into severely immune-compromised mice to create chimeric animals that have a human immune system.”

The contract, first reported by CNS News, prompted 45 pro-life leaders to sign onto a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar calling for an end to the government’s use of tissue from aborted babies for research.

Thee article includes the following:

Late Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement announcing termination of the contract:

After a recent review of a contract between Advanced Bioscience Resources Inc. and the Food and Drug Administration to provide human fetal tissue to develop testing protocols, HHS was not sufficiently assured that the contract included the appropriate protections applicable to fetal tissue research or met all other procurement requirements.

As a result, that contract has been terminated, and HHS is now conducting an audit of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue to ensure conformity with procurement and human fetal tissue research laws and regulations.

The Food and Drug Administration’s presolicitation notice had said that Advanced Bioscience Resources “is the only company in the U.S. capable of supplying” the fetal tissue, and “no other company or organization is capable of fulfilling the need.”

Advanced Bioscience Resources reportedly is among the entities under referral for a criminal investigation into whether they profited from the sale of tissue from aborted babies. Among the company’s sources for fetal tissue are Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics.

This will be a financial blow to Planned Parenthood. I don’t know how much of a financial blow, but Planned Parenthood profits off of the sale of aborted baby body parts. This will at least end public funding of research on aborted baby body parts. It is a step in the right direct. Next, we need to defund Planned Parenthood. No organization that accepts government money should be able to contribute to the campaigns of the people who allocate that money.

The Facts Aren’t Important–Just Create Outrage

It seems as if every week there is a new dust-up about some horrible thing Donald Trump has done. Oddly enough, when these stories are disproved (as they often are), the media seems to ignore that fact. One recent example of the mainstream media’s hysteria is the missing children who came here illegally without their parents who were housed in wire cages. Somehow much of the media has ignored the fact that the pictures of children in wire cages were from 2014. President Trump wasn’t even active in politics at that point! So what is the actual truth about the missing children?

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial on the subject yesterday.

The editorial cites one blatant example of news that simply is not true:

Next, there was a picture showing a bus outfitted with child safety seats being used at an ICE family detention center in Karnes County, Texas. ABC Houston reporter Antonio Arellano tweeted the picture on Sunday, describing it as “a prison bus just for babies.”

Again, outrage ensued.

“Unconscionable and inhumane, “said Texas Sen. Sylvia Garcia. “This is what we’ve come to under Donald Trump,” said Stephen King. Others tweeted: “your new gestapo at work,” “this is what fascism looks like,” “we live in a dark period of American history,” “moral abomination.” Etc., etc.

Oops. Turns out this picture, too, was taken when Obama was president. And, the bus was actually used to take the children on field trips to places like the San Antonio Zoo, a nearby park, the movies, as well as for medical treatment and court appointments.

So much for the Trump-era inhumane prison bus for babies.

About those missing children…The editorial reports:

Back in 2008, the inspector general for the Health and Human Services department noted that HHS and Homeland Security weren’t regularly checking in on these children to make sure they were doing OK with their sponsor families. So, HHS started following up with the sponsors 30 days after the children’s release.

But, as the IG noted in a follow-up July 2017 report, HHS doesn’t always succeed in its attempts to reach the sponsors. It reported that in the first half of 2016, HHS couldn’t reach 16% of the 25,975 children placed with sponsors during those months.

In other words, under President Obama, the government “lost” 4,156 illegal immigrant children in just the first six months of 2016!

It is generally a good idea if you choose to get outraged to check your facts first.

Another Reason Your Votes Matter

On Friday, The Federalist posted an article about ObamaCare explaining where we are and where President Obama would like to go next in American healthcare. It really isn’t good news.

The article reports:

President Obama recently published an overview of the results of ObamaCare in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It’s a pretty extraordinary article, because in important ways it acknowledges that ObamaCare has basically failed—and it lays the cards on the table for what we always knew was going to be his next step.

…Forcing insurers to cover people who are already sick and to charge them the same rates as healthy people has jacked up insurance premiums for everyone else. So because the law didn’t make insurance affordable, Congress has to make it affordable by heavily subsidizing it with even more of the taxpayers’ money.

Obama also somewhat vaguely acknowledges the problem of rising deductibles. One way of staunching the rise in premiums has been to offer plans with very high deductibles—the amount a person has to pay upfront before his insurance kicks in to cover the rest. This keeps the premiums affordable at the cost of making the actual care less affordable by whacking you with huge payments if you actually get sick. Last year, the New York Times acknowledged that under ObamaCare, “sky-high deductibles…are leaving some newly insured feeling nearly as vulnerable as they were before they had coverage…. ‘We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.’”

Obviously ObamaCare is not working in a way that is helpful to the American people. So what happens next? Don’t say you weren’t warned–you were.

The article explains the next step:

Like I said, this was predictable and predicted from the very beginning, but now it’s all out in the open. ObamaCare was always just an exercise in planned obsolescence, cobbling together a system nobody really thought was going to work, just so they could exploit its failures to push for the socialized medicine they really wanted all along. It’s telling that in this article, Obama boasts that the Affordable Care Act has increased the number of people who are insured, but his own data shows that the biggest driver of that is an expansion of Medicaid, which is not insurance but welfare—the system he wants for everyone.

As I noted back in 2009, a decade-long exercise in deliberately wrecking private health insurance is the most callous and destructive way to pursue that goal.

If that surprises you, look at Venezuela. When has the Left ever shied away from smashing everything to pieces in pursuit of government power? So we shouldn’t expect anything different here.

If we are going to stop this runaway train, and it is not assured that we can, the only possible solution is to elect people in November who do not support socialized medicine. How do you find this people? You look at the voting records of anyone who was in Congress when ObamaCare was passed. You listen to the statements of the candidates.

I have one final note. ObamaCare was passed through a budget reconciliation process rather than as a standard bill. This was because that type of bill could not be filibustered in the Senate. No Republicans voted for HB3590, the predecessor to ObamaCare, or the reconciliation. Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts (who was voted in after Ted Kennedy’s death) never got a chance to vote on ObamaCare because the Attorney General of Massachusetts delayed the certification of the election until after any Senate vote would be taken. The shenanigans involved in passing ObamaCare in the first place were disgraceful. It is also disgraceful that the Republican House of Representatives has not made a serious effort to defund ObamaCare. We need to elect people who will end ObamaCare and bring the free market into healthcare. Then America will have a strong healthcare system that serves all Americans.

This May Be One Of Many Reasons ObamaCare Is So Expensive

On Tuesday, The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about an Inspector General audit of the Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of the audit was to determine if the ObamaCare healthcare sign-up sites were monitoring the people who were signing up to see if they were eligible for ObamaCare.

The article reports:

The IG found that the internal controls did not always correctly verify Social Security numbers, citizenship status, annual household income, and family size information to determine eligibility.

One applicant understated her income by $7,000. According to the IG, the marketplace should have compared this income data to available electronic data sources and realized that the applicant’s income was more than 10 percent below the income listed on these data sources. Then, the marketplace should have asked the applicant for additional evidence of income.

Instead, this applicant was not only verified, but was approved to receive the advance premium tax credit.

Another example of weak internal controls was found in efforts to verify citizenship status. The marketplace did not always verify this information through the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, as was required.

The IG found that not only were there problems with internal controls, but once discrepancies were found, they were not handled properly.

…This report comes on the heels of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found Healthcare.gov approved coverage for fake accounts. GAO performed undercover tests and fabricated personal data of fake applicants for coverage under Obamacare. In 11 of 12 of these fake applications, the online marketplace approved coverage and granted each account $30,000 in premium tax credits.

Sounds like a typical government program to me.

 

More Laws Not Written By Congress

Yesterday’s Washington Times reported that the Health and Human Services Administration has rewritten the rules in ObamaCare regarding birth control.

The article reports:

The Obama administration on Monday ordered all insurers to provide IUDs, the contraceptive patch and other birth control free of out-of-pocket charge to all women, thereby rewriting the rules after reports that some insurance carriers were refusing to cover all types of contraceptives.

Insurers must now cover at least one brand of contraception in each of 18 different methods outlined by the Food and Drug Administration, such as one type of oral contraceptive pill, one version of the emergency contraceptive morning-after pill and, notably, the vaginal ring, which some women could not get before without paying out of pocket.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article, but I am only going to focus on two aspects of the law. First of all–the Obama administration ordered all insurers. Insurers are asked to comply with a law that was never even considered in Congress. How does the implementation of this law represent anything the voters had any say in? Secondly, in what way is anyone in charge of implementing this law accountable to the voters? Has the government completely taken over the health insurance industry–telling them what they can cover and what they can’t cover?

The article further reports:

The Supreme Court last year ruled closely held corporations do not have to insure types of birth control that violate their moral beliefs, and the Obama administration is expected to update its rules soon.

Religious nonprofits, meanwhile, are still pursuing their cases through the courts, arguing that the “accommodation” the administration designed for them still leaves them complicit in contraceptive coverage.

America was established as a representative republic–our public officials are supposed to represent us and be accountable to us. ObamaCare is an example of what happens when a political class that is deaf to the wishes of Americans ignores the law. Meanwhile, members of Congress committed fraud to make sure that they and their staff were exempt from ObamaCare (rightwinggranny.com). It is time to reign in Washington and get back to government by the people.

 

Here’s One Place We Can Cut Government Spending

The Washington Examiner posted a story today about Medicaid fraud. Medicaid is the federal program that provides medical care to people who can’t afford it.

The article reports:

Healthcare providers banned from Medicaid may have been reimbursed $213 million in federal money, thanks to a state agency oversight, a government watchdog reported.

Valid identification numbers — identifiers that ensure providers are eligible for Medicaid reimbursements — were missing from 800,000 Colorado claims in 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services inspector general reported Wednesday.

The state reimbursed the providers $424.4 million for the claims, of which, $213 million was federal money.

Regardless of how you feel about government-provided healthcare and whether or not it is constitutional, a $213 million dollar savings in federal spending would be nice. If one state has that much Medicaid fraud, how much do the other states have?

The article goes on to explain that the computer system in Colorado was not able to alert officials to missing or incorrect identification numbers and that the problem would not be corrected until 2016. However, the agency is now denying claims with invalid or missing numbers. It sounds like Colorado is working with the same programmers that designed the ObamaCare website.

It May Seem Like A Good Idea, But Does It Work?

One of the new mantras of the political left is income inequality. It is simply a crime that people who spent years becoming educated and learning things make considerably more money than those who didn’t. A college graduate has always made more money than a high-school graduate (but that was back when people majored in subjects that included marketable skills–but that’s a whole different issue).

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal posted an editorial explaining how President Obama’s efforts at wealth redistribution have impacted the poor and middle class. In one sentence, higher taxes and redistribution policies have helped neither the poor nor the middle class.

The article reports:

On taxes, Mr. Obama often claims that the rich don’t pay their “fair share,” yet the most affluent one-fifth of taxpayers on average supplied 68.7% of federal revenue for 2011. That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office, which last week updated its statistics on the U.S. distribution of income and taxes for 2011 and preliminary calculations for last year.

As for the top 1%, they funded 24% of everything the government does in 2011. The CBO also estimates that the end-of-2012 fiscal cliff deal that lifted the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6%, plus ObamaCare’s taxes on high-income individuals, increased their average federal taxes by 4.3 percentage points to 33.3% of income. The Warren Buffett minimum-tax rule asserted that no millionaire should pay an effective tax below 30%. Mission accomplished.

So what has been the impact of the increase in taxes on the wealthy? The editorial reports that in 2011, two years after the recession was declared over, middle class income fell by 1.9% compared with 2007.

The article concludes:

The main lesson in these statistics is not about dependence on government. Rather, it is a verdict on Obamanomics. Presidents who put reducing inequality above increasing prosperity end up with less growth and opportunity that benefits everyone, and thus with more inequality.

There’s also a lesson about the exhaustion of the liberal tax agenda. As a matter of arithmetic in a tax system as tilted toward the high end as America’s, the rich aren’t nearly rich enough to finance progressive ambitions. If Hillary Clinton wants more redistribution, she’ll inevitably have to tee up everybody between the 21st to 80th income percentiles for a European-style value-added tax, carbon tax or some other revenue maker.

Have you ever noticed that the people who want to redistribute wealth have enough money to pay accountants to shield their money? It is always the middle class that ends up paying the bill.

Was This What America Wanted?

Yesterday Investors.com posted an article about the new ObamaCare insurance premiums and the expected enrollment in 2015.

This is a chart from the article:

The article reports:

Just 9 million to 9.9 million people will be enrolled by the end of 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services predicted. That’s far below an earlier Congressional Budget Office projection of 13 million.

Instead of a near-doubling of the exchange population projected by CBO, the White House’s estimate amounts to a 25%-40% increase vs. the newly disclosed 7.1 million tally as of October.

It is becoming very obvious that ObamaCare is not working out the way the American people were promised it would work.

Meanwhile, sometime next summer we can expect the Supreme Court to rule on whether of not the federal government is allowed to pay the subsidies needed to make ObamaCare work.

The article concludes:

Excluding subsidies, the lowest-cost bronze plan will rise 3%, and the cheapest silver plan will go up 4%, on average.

The after-subsidy premium cost increase of the cheapest bronze and silver plans has to do with how the subsidies are calculated. As income rises, even just to match inflation, the amount paid in premiums before subsidies kick in goes up.

Further, individuals will pay more for the cheapest plans, after subsidies, if the second-lowest-cost silver plan premium increases less — or falls more — than premiums for the lowest-cost silver and bronze plans.

In 11 of the 34 cities, the subsidized lowest-cost bronze premium will rise by double digits, but the subsidized rate will be flat or negative in nine of the cities.

So, in addition to not being able to keep your doctor or your health insurance plan if you like them, you will be paying more for what you do have under ObamaCare.

Some Good News and Bad News In The October Employment Numbers

Yesterday Investors.com posted an article about the employment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.

The jobless rate is 5.8%, the lowest since June 2008. However, the Labor Force Participation Rate (the percentage of Americans of working age who are working) is at 62.8 percent, essentially flat since April according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Despite these relatively good numbers, consumer confidence is still low, Part of the reason for that is what has happened to Middle Income family income since 2007.

The article at Investors.com reports:

Real median household incomes fell 6.6% from $55,627 in 2007 to $51,939 at the end of last year. It will take years to recoup that loss. Meanwhile, male workers’ incomes have been in a tailspin for over a decade.

Private-sector wages grew 2% from last year in October — just barely ahead of the 1.7% rise in inflation.

So lack of opportunity stemming from 2% GDP growth and slow-growing family incomes have put average Americans in a sour mood.

The article at Investors.com further reports:

It’s policy failure. We and others repeatedly warned that President Obama’s massive stimulus, cheap money and heavy-handed regulation were a recipe for stagnation. That’s exactly what happened.

Each era of big government tinkering ends with the the economy being systematically run into the ground by Keynesian policymakers — and with economists pondering whether it’ll always be this way.

“Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” President Reagan famously asked in the 1980 campaign. Today, Americans seem to be saying no.

I hope the new Republican Congress will have the courage to encourage the President (strongly) to change direction.

When Do We Admit ObamaCare Is A Bad Idea?

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that the HealthCare.gov website had been hacked. Evidently the hacker uploaded malicious software. Ann investigation concluded that no personal data was taken, so theoretically, if you used the site to purchase your healthcare insurance, you should not have to worry about identity theft (at least from that particular site).

The article concludes:

The attack comes as the federal government and insurance companies prepare for open enrollment, which begins Nov. 15. It is likely to be seized on by Republican lawmakers, who oppose the law, in fall campaigns as another sign of the health law’s flaws. HealthCare.gov suffered from crippling technology problems when it launched in October, though the government has since improved the site.

Taken with recent data thefts from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Home Depot Inc., and celebrities’ iPhones, the HealthCare.gov hack further underscores that large organizations haven’t yet mastered how to secure the troves of data they collect from consumers.

The government has no business doing health insurance–that power is not given to them in the Constitution. We are going to reach a point in America when we have to decide whether or not the U.S. Constitution is the law of the land. We can either choose to follow it or not. I think that during the past few years we have seen the consequences of not following the Constitution–government and government spending are out of control and all Americans pay a price for that–in terms of finances and in terms of privacy. It truly is time to take back the country from the Washington elitists who have been running it for a long time.

Another Glitch In ObamaCare

There has been another glitch in ObamaCare. Actually, it is considerably more than a glitch. Yesterday the Daily Caller reported that more than 300,000 people who signed up for ObamaCare are in danger of losing their coverage if they do not provide more information about their citizenship and immigration status.

The article reports:

Obamacare administrator the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Tuesday that the agency sent letters notifying 310,000 customers who have failed to fix errors in their citizenship or immigration data that their coverage will be terminated Sept. 30 if they don’t submit proof by Sept. 5.

The customers are part of close to 1 million Obamacare sign-ups who submitted applications with citizenship and immigration information that didn’t square with federal records. CMS claims 450,000 of those cases have been resolved, but it’s not clear how many of those “closed” cases resulted in more canceled policies.

CMS claims it reached out to customers between five and seven times, through mail, phone and e-mail, to try to straighten out the citizenship and immigration errors. They’ve pledged to reach out again with two more phone calls and one more e-mail before Sept. 5.

The article also explains that applications with income verification issues will be addressed at a later date. This means that people who have had their premiums subsidized by the government may be faced with an unexpected hefty tax bill.

What a mess!

I Don’t Think This Was Part Of The Plan

Yesterday’s Daily Caller posted an article about the Maryland Obamacare exchange. It is currently under federal investigation for fraud.

The article reports:

The inspector general’s office for the Department of Health and Human Services reportedly told Maryland Republican Rep. Andy Harris that it will proceed with an investigation into how Maryland’s Obamacare exchange spent copious amounts of federal grant money in the face of its failing exchange.

Oregon’s Obamacare exchange will also be investigated by the General Accountability Office after a separate request from House Republicans.

Large amounts of federal money were given to these two states to set up their exchanges–Oregon was awarded $304 million in federal funding for its Obamacare exchange — in addition to $160 million spent in state funding so far, the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange expects to spend $261 million, over 80 percent of its federal grants, by the end of 2015.

It seems to me that any person with some degree of common sense would be looking at these numbers and wondering how Obamacare was going to save money. It really is time to get the federal government out of the health insurance business and let the free market reign. There are ways that the government can set basic regulations to make it easier for people to afford health insurance–more competition in the free market would allow prices to drop, as would portability across state lines, tort reform, tax credits for individuals purchasing health insurance, and some other basic changes. It’s time to admit that Obamacare does not work and needs to be done away with and replaced with a free market system. The insurance industry is a business. There is nothing evil about business. Businesses work best with the least amount of government interference.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta