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.

 

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