Losing Health Insurance Because You Want To

Yesterday National Review posted an article about the claims the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is making regarding the number of people who would lose their health insurance if ObamaCare were repealed.

The article states:

Do you want to repeal every word of Obamacare and replace it with nothing? CBO says 22 million fewer people would have health insurance. Do you prefer replacing Obamacare with a system of flat tax credits, in which you get the same amount of assistance regardless of your financial need? CBO says 23 million fewer people would have health insurance. Do you prefer replacing Obamacare with means-tested tax credits, like the Senate bill does, in which the majority of the assistance is directed to those near or below the poverty line? CBO says 22 million fewer people would have health insurance.

22 million, 23 million, 22 million—these numbers are remarkably similar even though the three policies I describe above are significantly different. Why is that?

Thanks to information that was leaked to me by a congressional staffer, we now have the answer.

Nearly three-fourths of the difference in coverage between Obamacare and the various GOP plans derives from a single feature of the Republican bills: their repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate. But the CBO has never published a year-by-year breakout of the impact of the individual mandate on its coverage estimates.

So actually, a large percentage of the people who would lose insurance coverage if ObamaCare is repealed would choose to lose coverage because they would no longer be penalized for not having insurance. Basically, the CBO report is spin! There is also the matter of ObamaCare requiring people to pay for coverage they don’t need. Generally speaking senior citizens do not need maternity coverage or pediatric dental coverage. They should not be asked to pay for it!

When The Numbers Just Don’t Add Up

This was posted by a friend on Facebook:

This seemed like a reasonable question, so I did some research. On December 2016, CNN Money posted the following:

Nearly 6.4 million Americans have selected Obamacare policies through the federal exchange for coverage starting Jan. 1, federal officials announced Wednesday. That’s 400,000 more than had selected policies a year ago.

Under the proposed repeal and replace ObamaCare bill, the rate of growth of Medicaid will be cut–Medicaid will still grow, but more slowly. The goal is to create a program that will create a rate structure that allows more Americans to pay for their own health insurance. I am not thrilled with the current bill in the Senate, but passing it may be a necessary evil if we are to avoid single-payer or socialized medicine (which would be the result of the total collapse of ObamaCare which is rapidly approaching).

The Truth About The Current Healthcare Bill

Yesterday the Independent Journal Review posted an article about some of the lies we are being told about the current healthcare bill. I don’t support the current bill, but I resent the fact that lies are being used in an attempt to discredit it.

The article explains how the numbers are being twisted:

The current repeal and replace bill is a bad bill. ObamaCare needs to be fully repealed and the government needs to get out of health insurance. Let the people who understand actuary tables run healthcare. The only provision the government needs to make is to insure that high-risk pools are set up (and made affordable) for the people that need them. Healthcare should be available across state lines, tort reform is needed, and tax credits given to lower-income families to help pay for insurance. Otherwise, the government needs to let the free market to work.

 

Fake News Abounds About The Repeal/Replace ObamaCare Bill

I have stated before that I do not support the current bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare. I believe that what we need is straight repeal. Then we need to teach Congress about the free market and let them apply those principles to healthcare and health insurance.

On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an article about the current repeal-replacement bill on ObamaCare.

Here are some observations from the article:

Look at any story about the Senate health bill, and you’ll see words like those describe its supposed cuts to Medicaid. What if we told you there are no such cuts?

First, the Senate bill doesn’t change Medicaid at all for three years. That means spending on the program will continue to grow, just as it is slated to now — at an annual 5% clip — until 2021.

What does that mean in dollar terms? Under the Senate’s “shredding” reform, Medicaid’s budget in 2021 will be $85 billion bigger than it is this year, and $209 billion (or 79%) bigger than it was in 2013.

What about after that? Under the Senate plan, there’d be a three-year transition to a new way of financing Medicaid.

And then, starting in 2025 federal Medicaid spending would be capped each year, with the cap set to grow at the overall inflation rate.

If you plot annual spending out over the next 10 years, what you see is that spending is never actually cut — at least not in the sense that most people think of a spending cut. Instead, it would grow at a slightly slower rate.

Even under the more restrictive House bill, Medicaid’s budget would still climb 20% over the next decade. So growth will end up higher still under the more generous Senate version.

This is the usual game that Congress and the media play with budget issues–only in Washington could a 5% increase be considered a cut!

The article explains the problems with Medicaid:

As a result, Medicaid now consumes about 20% of state general fund spending — and it’s rising. Next year, the 32 states that expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare will see their costs climb by an additional $9 billion.

Meanwhile, a Government Accountability Office investigation found that improper payments accounted for more than 10% of all Medicaid spending last year.

And for all this, Medicaid grossly underpays doctors and provides lousy care to many of its enrollees. In California, for example, the Medicaid expansion resulted in a flood of patients into emergency rooms because they can’t find a doctor willing to treat them.

In short, Medicaid is in dire trouble, and the Senate and House bills offer smart, prudent — and relatively modest — fixes.

Clean up the fraud, and encourage people to actually get jobs that will help them obtain medical insurance. We need less people riding in the wagon and more people pulling the wagon.

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.

ObamaCare Is Not Doing Well

Politico posted an article today about sign-ups for ObamaCare.

The article reports:

Sign-ups for Obamacare coverage declined for the first time in the 2017 season and fell below the Obama administration‘s estimates for the three-month enrollment window, according to figures released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services.

A total of 12.2 million people enrolled in Obamacare plans nationwide between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31 — a drop-off from the 12.7 million sign-ups at the close of the last open-enrollment season. The Trump administration soon after taking office scaled back enrollment outreach during the critical final week of sign-ups.

The article reminds us that roughly four out of five people who sign up for ObamaCare receive tax credits to offset their monthly premiums. Even at that, people are not rushing to sign up.

The article concludes:

The Trump administration reversed plans to scrap phone calls and other forms of outreach to encourage sign-ups in the finals days of the enrollment period after the move sparked outcry from the law’s supporters and health insurers. Officials said they were unable to pull back some HealthCare.gov radio and TV advertising that had been purchased by the Obama administration. HHS was able to cancel about $4 million to $5 million in ads.

The enrollment report comes amid a spate of troubling news about health law insurance markets. Last month, Humana announced it would become the first major insurer to pull out of the market completely next year. Molina, which had an unexpected loss, said it would assess ongoing participation at a later date. Other insurers are sounding alarms.

ObamaCare needs to go away. The Republicans need to pass the bill they have passed before in order to end it. The gamesmanship that is going on now in the Republican Party is totally unacceptable.

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.

It Can Be Fixed, But It’s Not Right Yet

Yesterday The Heritage Foundation posted their evaluation of the bill to replace ObamaCare. Admittedly, The Heritage Foundation is a politically conservative group, so their solution to ObamaCare would be aimed at shrinking government, not just moving the chairs around.

The article lists some of the problems with the bill:

Basically, the bill focuses on protecting those who gained subsidized coverage through the law’s exchange subsidies and Medicaid expansion, while failing to correct Obamacare’s misguided insurance regulations that drove up premiums for Americans buying coverage without government subsidies.

That is both a policy problem and a political problem.

The article goes on to explain that the people who need relief from ObamaCare are the people whose premiums and deductibles rose dramatically. That is the group the does not get relief in the new bill. The new bill leaves costly regulations in place and attempts to offset those costs with subsidies. That is what most Americans want to get rid of.

The article explains:

In that regard, the draft bill’s new “Patient and State Stability Fund” is particularly problematic. That program would provide grants to states of up to a total of $100 billion over the nine years 2018-2026.

There are a several significant problems with this new program.

First, it substitutes new funding for old Obamacare funding without adequately addressing the misguided Obamacare insurance market rules and subsidy design that made the exchanges a magnet for high cost patients.

Those mistakes in Obamacare created an insupportable burden on the individual insurance market by concentrating expensive patients in only that small portion of the total market.

Second, like Obamacare, it doesn’t actually reduce premiums, but rather masks with subsidies the effects of Obamacare provisions that drove up premiums in the first place.

Third, it creates a new entitlement for states. Furthermore, without a resulting reduction in unsubsidized premium levels, future Congresses will likely face pressure from states and constituents to extend and expand the program.

That is exactly backwards from what is needed.

The new healthcare bill also fails to reign in Medicaid.

The article reports:

Under the Medicaid expansion, the federal government reimbursed states 100 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid to able-bodied adults, with federal support eventually declining to 90 percent.

Yet, states continue to receive significantly less federal assistance (50 percent to 75 percent, depending on the state) for covering the more vulnerable populations (such as poor children and the disabled) that the program was intended for. That policy was both inequitable and unaffordable.

The draft bill does not correct that inequity, but rather reduces the enhanced match rate from 95 percent to 80 percent. The better approach would be to allow states to immediately cap expansion population enrollment, while also setting federal reimbursement for any new expansion enrollees at normal state match rates.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. There are three things that need to happen with health insurance in America–the policy needs to be attached to the person–not their employer, policies need to be portable across state lines, and people with pre-existing conditions need to have a way to be insurance. Other than that, the government needs to get out of the healthcare business and let the free market rule. It will be bumpy for a short while, but if we don’t do it now, things will only get worse.

Repeal It Or Go The Way Of The Whigs

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about the repeal of ObamaCare. The editorial made some very important points. First of all, the writer reminded us that the demonstrations opposing the repeal of ObamaCare were planned by the Democrats shortly after the election. There are some people who want to keep ObamaCare, but despite what you see on the news, they are a minority.

The editorial reminds us:

Imagine that Democrats announced a health care reform plan that would force millions to cancel health plans and leave the doctors they like, drastically reduce choice and competition in the individual market, cause health insurance premiums to skyrocket, blow billions of taxpayer dollars creating faulty “exchanges” and failing co-ops, leave millions of middle-class families stuck with higher deductibles and higher premiums, cause massive industry losses, slow the economy, cost jobs, and increase the deficit.

Those are the results ObamaCare’s critics predicted and, without exaggeration, what it has produced. Does anyone honestly believe ObamaCare would have ever made it to Obama’s desk if its backers had been honest with the public?

Yes, the uninsured rate has come down, but as IBD noted, the “20 million gained insurance thanks to ObamaCare” claim is a wild exaggeration, and the gains that did occur are entirely due to the expansion of Medicaid — a terrible and financially troubled program — and other government insurance programs, not ObamaCare’s individual market “reforms.”

ObamaCare will implode on its own in a year or so, but the chaos it will leave will take years to undo. It makes much more sense to repeal it before it collapses.

There is another aspect of this mentioned in the editorial–the trust of the voters. First Republicans said, “Give us the House, and we will repeal ObamaCare.” Voters did that, and ObamaCare was not repealed. Then Republicans said, “Give us the House and the Senate, and we will repeal ObamaCare. Voters did that, and ObamaCare was not repealed. Then Republicans said, “Give us the Presidency, and we will repeal ObamaCare.” Well…

During the Obama Administration, Congress took numerous votes to repeal ObamaCare. It was a safe vote–Congressmen knew that President Obama would veto anything that actually got through the Senate, and nothing would happen. Now that a vote to repeal ObamaCare would actually mean something, Congress is stalling.

I have not given up on the repeal of ObamaCare. However, I have pretty much given up on the Republican party. If they choose not to repeal ObamaCare, how are they any different from the Democrats? How can their platform say that they support smaller government and their actions say something else? In plain English, it is time for the Republicans in Congress to put up or shut up.

The Consequences Of ObamaCare

We all know the obvious consequences of ObamaCare–higher premiums, people losing their insurance policies, people having health insurance but not being able to find doctors that accept their plans, etc. Well, there were also some other consequences.

Yesterday The Conservative Treehouse posted an article that illustrates one consequence of ObamaCare that is sometimes not mentioned. The article mentions that Senator Harry Reid kept the Senate in session during the ObamaCare debate so that Democratic Senators would not hear the voters’ opposition to ObamaCare. The Democrats claimed that the Tea Party was astroturf. Was it?

The article includes the following chart:

Recently we have seen protesters at townhall meetings of Congressmen who want to repeal ObamaCare. These are protesters organized according to the Democrat’s Alinsky playbook. They can protest all they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that more Americans have been hurt rather than helped by ObamaCare. Those Senators who do not support the repeal of ObamaCare need to keep this in mind.

 

One Disaster Under ObamaCare

Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article about Pamela Weldin, a Nebraska woman who has lost her health insurance four times under ObamaCare.

The article reports:

A former dental hygienist, Weldin has all the hallmarks of a consumer intended to benefit from the Affordable Care Act.

She has been denied coverage in the past because of a pre-existing condition related to her career as a dental hygienist.

Additionally, Weldin qualifies for a tax credit, which she has received every year since 2014.

As a result, her premiums are low when compared to consumers who don’t qualify for financial assistance: In early 2015, Weldin purchased a plan through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska that cost her $232 each month.

This year, premiums for her silver-level plan with Medica are $161 per month after her tax credit.

But though Weldin has benefited from aspects of the law, she hasn’t been immune to the changes in the health insurance market that have occurred in last few years.

“I’m a person who has been denied because of pre-existing conditions,” Weldin, a Pampered Chef director, said. “I’m on Obamacare and have lost my insurance four times in three years. I understand the challenges, but it’s not sustainable.”

It gets worse:

It wasn’t until after she paid her first month’s premium, however, that Weldin learned from the insurance company that any doctor located more than 100 miles from her rural Nebraska home wasn’t in her network.

If she wanted to see her doctor in Colorado—considered out-of-network now—Weldin had to meet a $20,000 out-of-network deductible before Aetna would start covering her medical expenses.

That information, she said, wasn’t listed on HealthCare.gov when she was shopping for plans.

“$20,000 for a deductible? Are you kidding me?” Weldin said. “How is that affordable?”

If the Republican Party ever wants me to support one of their candidates again, they need to make sure ObamaCare is gone permanently by June. Otherwise they might as well be Democrats.

Why It Is So Difficult To Drain The Swamp

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as ObamaCare, was signed into law on March 23, 2010. It was passed with only Democratic votes in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. In September 2009, The Tea Party organized a march on Washington and protests in other cities. The protestors were opposing the proposals for ObamaCare, increased federal spending, bigger government, and higher taxes. In 2010, the Republicans were elected to a majority in the House of Representatives and in 2014, the Republicans were elected to a small majority in the Senate. So why, after the elected Republicans promised smaller government, lower taxes, and less spending, did the government continue to grow? At the heart of the matter is the difference between process and policy. There is also the element of showmanship—the Republicans voted to repeal ObamaCare on a regular basis knowing that even if they had the votes to repeal it, they did not have the votes to override a Presidential veto that would surely occur.

So how does the process impact the policy? The following notes are taken from a Heritage Action Sentinel Brief explaining how Washington actually works.

The GOP Pledge to America included the following:

“We will end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with ‘must-pass’ legislation to circumvent the will of the American people. Instead, we will advance major legislation one issue at a time”

Well, that promise was quickly broken.

The Heritage Action Brief explains:

Congressmen may claim that they had no other choice but to vote on the package once Leadership made the decision. That is not true; it was not a fait accompli. As is custom, right before the House voted on the CR (Continuing Resolution), Leadership holds a procedural rule vote to consider every bill and set the terms of the debate. Any member who did not like the process whereby the subsequent provisions were to be considered has the opportunity to vote against the rule. This would prevent Leadership from packaging in unfavorable legislation, like the Ex-Im reauthorization or a myriad of other bad legislation.

Hiding Policy in Process. For more than a decade, GOP Leadership, when in control of the House, has promulgated the view that procedural “rule” votes are routine, party line votes that should be approved without a second thought. This has given them a relatively free license to bring bills to the floor not supported by conservatives, and they rely on Democrats for the necessary votes to pass them. The concept of “logrolling” bad bills into a crucial funding measure or, worse, a matter of foreign policy, is a compelling reason (one of many) for challenging a procedural rule. Not to mention, the American people voted this type of legislating out of office in 2010 when House Republicans adopted the Pledge of America, which precluded the packaging of unpopular legislation together.

Remember this the next time your Representative tells you they have no choice but to vote for more bad policy. Usually they only need to vote NO on the rule to change the process and allow better policy.

The longest serving congressman in history, former Michigan Representative John Dingell once said, “I’ll let you write the substance…you let me write the procedure, and I’ll [beat] you every time.” In other words, process is policy, and Congressmen who vote on auto-pilot on process fail to represent their constituents on a vast number of votes.

This is the swamp that needs to be drained. The best thing President Trump could do would be to give the conservatives in Congress the courage to stand up against the process status quo. It is time to make Congress more transparent and more responsive to the voters. We saw in this past election that the voters will speak up. It is time that our representatives started listening.

The Facts You Need To Fight The Current Spin

Yesterday Investors.com posted a story about what the repeal of ObamaCare will actually mean. The story separates the lies we are being told from the actual truth.

These are the five main points from the story:

  1.  Repealing ObamaCare will not add 20 million to the number of people without health insurance.
  2.  Repealing ObamaCare will not increase the deficit–leaving it in place with significantly increase the deficit in coming years.
  3.  Repealing ObamaCare will not mean that people with pre-existing conditions cannot get health insurance–the replacement plans being considered will have a place a way to cover pre-existing conditions.
  4. Repealing ObamaCare will not increase health costs. The article points out that the rate of increase in premiums for employer-provided insurance had also slowed before ObamaCare took effect. The shift in the employer market toward Health Savings Account plans — which Democrats hate — is largely responsible for that.
  5.  The claim that the voters do not want ObamaCare repealed is also false. The passage of ObamaCare strictly along Democratic Party lines lead to the loss of the House of Representatives by the Democrats in 2010, the loss of the Senate by the Democrats in 2014, and the loss of the Presidency by the Democrats in 2016.

Please follow the link above to read the details of the above points. We need healthcare to be allowed to function under a free-market system with as little interference from the government as possible. That will provide the most cost-efficient and most available healthcare for everyone.

How The Repeal Of ObamaCare Will Impact Your Taxes

ObamaCare has not been good for everyone. There are a few people that it has helped, but it has increased the cost of medical insurance and healthcare for the majority of Americans. Some Americans are now paying more for health insurance than they pay for their mortgage and car payment combined. If they don’t pay for health insurance, they are fined and take the risk of major medical expenses. So what happens if ObamaCare is repealed?

The American Spectator posted an article today about the impact of repealing ObamaCare.

The article states:

Now that the last significant obstacle to Obamacare repeal is finally packing his bags and preparing to vacate the White House, the defenders of the law are desperately casting about for some talking point that will convince the public that the risibly titled “Affordable Care Act” should be left in place. Having failed to get anywhere with doomsday studies claiming that repeal will render tens of millions uninsured, they have reverted to an old lefty refrain. The Republicans, they tell us, are in a rush to get rid of Obamacare because they want to give tax cuts to the rich.

We’ve heard that song before.

The article explains the actual facts:

In fact, as Howard Gleckman reluctantly admits at the TPC blog, “Overall, dumping all the ACA taxes would cut taxes by an average of $180 per household in 2017 — a 0.3 increase in after-tax incomes.” So, how have the social justice warriors in the media concluded that Obamacare repeal is a tax cut for the rich? The answer lies in the way they have chosen to define the word “rich.” All of this journalistic dudgeon is about the repeal of one tax on investment income aimed at Americans with annual incomes exceeding $200,000 (individuals) and $250,000 (couples).

…A far less obscure “tax” is that which you must pay if you fail to comply with Obamacare’s individual mandate. Obamacare’s apologists thought Chief Justice John Roberts was doing them a favor when he “fundamentally transformed” this fine into a tax in 2012, but that surreal ruling is now coming back to haunt them. In addition to the schadenfreude Obamacare opponents will enjoy when that tax is cut, the TPC study clearly shows that those in the lowest income brackets will benefit the most from the extirpation of this most hated provision of the unpopular law.

This is not what we are being told by the Democrats and their media co-conspirators. Using typically Orwellian logic, they tell us that repealing Obamacare’s subsidies will somehow increase taxes on the poor. In reality, these cuts will merely stop forcing hardworking Americans to pay for coverage they themselves cannot afford because of the “Affordable Care Act.” Meanwhile, these Obamacare dead-enders also insist that any revenue policy that fails to punish successful Americans amounts to “tax cuts to the rich.” This is why their side keeps losing elections.

There are a few things to note here. Does it strike you as odd that those claiming that the Republicans support ‘tax cuts for the rich’ are Democrats whose net worth is generally measured in millions? Is it just a coincidence that their wealth and income are structured so that they avoid the taxes that both the ‘rich’ and the poor pay? I would also like to note that the definition of ‘rich’ is very flexible in the minds of those screaming ‘tax cuts for the rich.’ Because much of tax revenue comes from the Middle Class, many middle-class people in areas where the cost of living is unusually high often find themselves classified as ‘rich.’ When the income tax was initially introduced in 1913, the top bracket was 7 percent (applied to incomes over $500,000–when adjusted for inflation, that number is actually $12 million). The lower bracket was a 1 percent tax. For an example of how the government views income taxes, I suggest you read “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond. The mouse’s perspective mirrors the government’s perspective on taxing Americans.

At any rate, repeal of ObamaCare would be a blessing for all of us. A healthcare system based on free-market principles would be better able to meet the needs of the both the ‘rich’ and the poor. Some of the things that would work in a replacement for ObamaCare might be healthcare that goes with the person–not the employer, tax breaks for the cost of individual healthcare would be a good idea, portability across state lines would increase competition and lower prices, risk pools for preexisting conditions might also help. There are many things that could be done to improve healthcare in America. ObamaCare was not one of them, and going to a single-payer, government system would not be helpful either. It is time for the business people that Donald Trump has nominated to his cabinet and the people in Congress who understand economics to put together a healthcare plan for America that will benefit all of us.

What Do You Want Washington To Do With ObamaCare?

Drastic premium increases are coming this year in ObamaCare. Scott Johnson at Power Line posted a story today about those increases. The article included this picture of a sign on a Minnesota VW:

healthinsurancepremiumsThe article points out:

Obamacare premium rate hikes have hit big time in Minnesota, which has gone all in on Obamacare courtesy of Governor Mark Dayton. Governor Dayton professes himself shocked that the Affordable Care Act is “no longer affordable.” Thanks, guy. Gee, who could have seen it coming?

Dayton is trying to create some distance between Democrats standing for election to the legislature and the unfolding catastrophe of Obamacare. He must think we’re really, really stupid and, like President Obama, he’s got the electoral success to prove it.

The answer to the healthcare insurance problem is a free market system that operates with minimum interference from the government. Government regulation tends to skew the market, making health insurance more expensive by impacting competition, and creating a situation where companies will withdraw from the market. That is part of the problem with ObamaCare. There needs to be enough regulation to ensure that everyone can get insurance, but not enough to skew the market. Insurance companies use actuary tables to calculate rates. When the government got involved in health insurance, they had no knowledge of how these tables worked. Therefore, they managed to ruin a health insurance system that was working for most Americans. The Democrats who voted for ObamaCare (there were no Republican votes for ObamaCare) have managed to ruin healthcare for a majority of Americans. If you want full government healthcare, vote Democrat, but before you do that you might want to look at the wait times for medical care in the United Kingdom, which has government healthcare. If you want healthcare to be a private enterprise that actually works, vote Republican. It is that simple.

 

Using Taxpayer Money To Prop Up Health Insurance Providers

Hot Air posted a story today with the following headline, “GAO report: HHS owes taxpayers billions in Obamacare reinsurance money.”

The article gives a synopsis of the story:

In 2014, the industry-funded reinsurance program was supposed to provide $10 billion to insurers and $2 billion to the federal Treasury. But when total collections from insurers amounted to only $9.7 billion, the Department of Health and Human Services opted to funnel all of the money toward insurers. The agency paid insurers $7.9 billion in claims for 2014, the first year of exchange coverage, and held over the remaining $1.7 billion for future payments.

Republicans asked the GAO to weigh in on whether or not HHS had the authority to interpret section 1341 of Obamacare in such a way that it could withhold payments to the Treasury. The GAO report concludes HHS clearly does not have the authority to do so:

ObamaCare has been a disaster from the beginning and will probably totally collapse under the next President. The problem then becomes how to rebuild the damage to American healthcare that ObamaCare has done. If Hillary is elected, we will go to total government healthcare. If Trump is elected, the hope is that he will lean toward a system that favors the free market.

The article concludes:

Just to put this in perspective, there have been weeks of stories about the scandal of phony accounts at Wells Fargo bank. That’s a legitimate scandal in which bank employees created millions of unauthorized new accounts (and credit cards) in order to secure bonuses for themselves. However, the total amount set aside for refunds in that case was $5 million dollars. That’s apparently how much customers were ripped off by the shady practices at Wells Fargo. For this legitimate scandal, Wells Fargo is paying over $150 million in fines and has already fired over 5,000 employees.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration withheld $3 billion dollars belonging to taxpayers and essentially redirected it to private companies. It has not paid back the money. It has not been punished for taking it without authorization. No one at HHS has been fired. And Elizabeth Warren is not demanding HHS Secretary Burwell resign.

Will there be any accountability for HHS and the Obama administration for what amounts to the intentional misdirection of billions of taxpayer dollars to the president’s pet project? Will the media devote 1/4 of the attention to this that it has to the Wells Fargo story? We shall see but my advice is don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

I realize that this is not an exciting story, but it is an important story. Not only did HHS exceed its power, it essentially stole money from the taxpayers. This sort of behavior by government agencies needs to be dealt with severely.

 

More Bad News From ObamaCare

Ed Morrissey posted an article at Hot Air today about some of the recent developments in ObamaCare. As ObamaCare quietly implodes, it is deeply impacting the cost of healthcare and health insurance in America.

The article reports:

Just over half of employees this year have a health insurance policy with a deductible of at least $1,000, according to a survey of employers from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

It’s the continuation of a multiyear trend of companies passing more of the costs of employee health care back onto workers.

Overall, health insurance premiums for a family covered by an employer health plan rose an average 3 percent this year to $18,142. Of that, employees pay an average of $5,277.

The thing we need to remember is that insurance companies are in business to make a profit. If they don’t make a profit, they won’t be in business. The percentage of profit of insurance companies is well within the range of other businesses. If you want to complain about the salaries paid to heads of insurance companies, also take a look at the salaries of other corporations–including nonprofits. You may argue that you think the salaries are out of line, but remember that stockholders make those decisions in public companies.The decisions about insurance rates are based on actuary tables which predict their cost of the coverage they provide to their policy holders. When the federal government gets involved and chooses to ignore those actuary tables, they skew the business model and things do not work the way they would in a free market.

The solution to health insurance costs is to go back to the free market. The competition will bring the price down faster than any government program. We need health insurance that goes across state lines, that follows the insured, rather than being provided by an employer, and that provides only the insurance the person being insured wants or needs–sixty-year-old grandmothers do not need pediatric dental coverage or birth control coverage. ObamaCare has been a disaster–it is time to replace it with a free market system.

The Unintended Consequences Of ObamaCare

Breitbart is reporting today that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is reporting that businesses in New York have reduced their number of employees due to ObamaCare.

The article reports:

Asked whether they were changing their health plans in response to Obamacare, three in five respondents — in both the manufacturing and service sector surveys — said they were. The most widely reported adjustments involved higher deductibles, increased co-pays, and higher out-of-pocket maximums for employees.

About 83 percent of firms indicated that they would be paying higher total healthcare premiums in 2017. As a result:

  1. 73 percent of firms were raising employee premiums;
  2. 65 percent were raising employee out-of-pocket expenses; and
  3. 67 percent were increasing employee co-pays.

Due to Obamacare, about 14 percent of manufacturers and 18 percent of service firms indicated that more employees are now being covered by health insurance; 2 percent of manufacturers and 8 percent of service firms said that fewer employees are now being covered.

When asked if they were making specific changes to certain fundamental business measures, owing to effects of the Obamacare, “roughly 17 percent of service sector firms and 21 percent of manufacturers said they were reducing the number of workers in response to” Obamacare. The vast majority of respondents in both surveys said they were not changing the proportion of part-time workers that are ineligible for Obamacare.

This is another example of the impact federal policies and regulations have on the economy. The American economy functions best when the free market is allowed to work–ObamaCare short circuits that process. We need a new administration in Washington that will lessen the burden the government places on Americans and American businesses. It is obvious that Hillary Clinton will be four more years of government burdens on Americans. At some point the economy will collapse under that burden. A vote for Hillary is a vote for the collapse of the American economy.

Another Broken Promise

Remember how ObamaCare was going to keep health insurance premiums from increasing more than a small percentage every year? The following was posted by a friend on Facebook:

ObamaCarePremiumsIt is not only time to repeal and replace ObamaCare, it is time to repeal and replace every Washington politician who has not repealed and replaced ObamaCare already!

I Guess Things Didn’t Go As Planned

ObamaCare is touted as one of the crowning achievements of the Obama Administration. Like some of the other achievements touted, the benefits are somewhat questionable. The two main promises of ObamaCare–if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it, and if you like your doctor, you can keep him–have not really worked out as claimed. Now the claim that ObamaCare has cut the cost of health insurance seems to be in doubt as well.

Forbes Magazine posted an article on Thursday disputing the claims of Loren Adler and Paul Ginsburg of the Brookings Institution that health insurance premiums have decreased under ObamaCare. The authors cite a 2014 Brookings study that concluded premiums have increased.

The article reports:

While I will discuss the relevant evidence of the ACA’s effect on premiums in depth, there are three data points worth emphasizing. First, unlike Adler and Ginsburg’s approach, Brookings 2014 study used actual data and found that “enrollment-weighted premiums in the individual health insurance market increased by 24.4 percent beyond what they would have had they simply followed…trends.” Second, S&P Global Institute found that average individual market medical costs increased substantially between 2013 and 2015, up an estimated 69%. Third, 2014 insurer data shows that premiums for individual market Qualified Health Plans (QHPs), ACA-compliant plans certified to be sold on exchanges, were much higher than premiums for individual market non-QHPs, mostly plans in existence before 2014 that did not comply with the ACA. Relative to non-QHPs, insurers collected more than $1,000 per enrollee in higher premiums and more than $2,300 in higher premium revenue per enrollee in 2014 after accounting for large premium subsidy programs for their QHPs.

The article includes the following graph:

PMPM Chart - Mercatus

The data shows a huge increase in PMPM costs in the individual market between 2013 and 2015. According to S&P, PMPM costs increased 38% between 2013 and 2014, and another 23% between 2014 and 2015. The two-year increase (69%) is the product of the two single-year increases.

…It is worth noting that the individual market includes both ACA-compliant plans as well as non-ACA-compliant plans. If only ACA-compliant plans were included in the post-2013 data, the spike would likely be much larger.

I do wonder how much of this will be reported by the mainstream media. The fact that most people will experience this on a personal level means that the public will become aware of it.

 

 

 

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.

What Goes Around Comes Around

The American Spectator posted an article today about the latest chapter in the ObamaCare saga. The article reminds us that the health insurance providers were initially supporters of ObamaCare. The article also reminds us that the insurance companies knew that they would not be able to make a profit under the rules of ObamaCare, but the plan was to have the taxpayers make up the loss.

The article reports:

In Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, the sinful sawbones eventually thinks better of his bargain with the devil and does his best to weasel out of the deal. A number of health insurers, having made similarly cynical arrangements with the Obama administration, are now attempting to use the court system to escape the consequences of their cupidity. Knowing full well that they couldn’t make legitimate profits selling coverage through Obamacare’s exchanges, they relied on Democrat guarantees that their losses would be covered by the taxpayers. But a funny thing happened on the way to easy profits. Congress refused to appropriate the funds.

The insurance companies in question were told by the Obama administration that they could expect to have their bottom lines propped up by the “risk corridor” program. The magical thinking behind this boondoggle was that insurers enjoying big profits from Obamacare would pay into a pool from which less fortunate plans would be subsidized. In late 2015, however, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that profitable insurers had paid in a mere $362 million while their unprofitable counterparts had requested $2.87 billion to cover their losses. Thus, the losers would be paid only 12.6 percent of their requests.

In 2012 the Republicans took over the House of Representatives and in 2014 they gained a majority in the Senate. The House of Representatives failed to appropriate the funds.

The article concludes:

…The performance of these Republicans has been disappointing in many ways. Still, by making the risk corridors budget neutral, they exposed the fundamental fiscal instability that defines Obamacare. This requirement was inserted largely due to a quiet effort by Senator Marco Rubio for which he has been savaged by the “news” media. The Washington Post, for example, described the Rubio contribution as follows: “a poison pill that is killing Obamacare from within.”

This is not an exaggeration. The restriction on using general funds to keep Obamacare afloat will drive the few remaining CO-OPs out of business and the remaining insurers out of the exchanges. Neither the Obama administration nor the congressional Democrats with whom they made their cynical deal can save them. In the end, the Devil will have his due.

The obvious answer here is to reintroduce the free market into health insurance. Let competition lower the cost. Create a risk pool for people with pre-existing conditions, much like the auto insurance industry does. Allow competition across state lines, and have the insurance follow the person so changing jobs is not a problem. Provide tax deductions for the cost of health insurance–if you don’t pay taxes, you don’t get the deduction. Also, take twenty-five-year-old adults off of their parents’ policies–it is time for them to take responsibility for themselves!

Numbers Don’t Lie

The numbers on ObamaCare are now starting to come out. They don’t look good. Power Line Blog posted an article yesterday about the latest statistics. National Public Radio collaborated with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to survey Americans’ recent experience with health care.

Here are two graphs from the article:

ObamaCareStatisticsWhen you look at the numbers, ObamaCare is not a success.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Fox News reported yesterday that illegal immigrants and others whose citizenship status was unclear received up to $750 million in ObamaCare subsidies as of June 2015.

The article reports:

The report, produced by Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, examined Affordable Care Act tax credits meant to defray the cost of insurance premiums. It found that as of June 2015, “the Administration awarded approximately $750 million in tax credits on behalf of individuals who were later determined to be ineligible because they failed to verify their citizenship, status as a national, or legal presence.”

The review found the credits went to more than 500,000 people – who are illegal immigrants or whose legal status was unclear due to insufficient records. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed to FoxNews.com on Monday that 471,000 customers with 2015 coverage failed to produce proper documentation on their citizenship or immigration status on time – but stressed that this does not necessarily mean they’re ineligible.  

The people who make comments like “that does not necessarily mean they’re ineligible” have obviously never raised teenagers.

The Senate report states that it is doubtful that the IRS will be able to recoup the money as there is no concrete plan to locate the people who illegally took the subsidies.

The article concludes:

The Senate report says the IRS and HHS initially failed to coordinate on a plan for recouping funds, and claimed that a subsequent plan from the IRS to recoup the money is still “ineffective and insufficient.”

In a July letter to Johnson, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen assured that the agency is “committed to identifying and efficiently addressing” improper payments. He reiterated that anyone “not lawfully present” who enrolls for ObamaCare coverage “must repay” the advance premium credit payments, and would be breaking the law if they don’t.

And the government has suddenly become efficient????

The Financial Legacy Of Barack Obama

On Wednesday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an article about the financial consequences of eight years of Barack Obama as President. The article includes the following chart:

EDIT3-CBO-012816

Some comments from the article:

“Government has failed to fully confront the deep, systemic problems that year after year have only become a larger and larger drag on our economy,” Obama said in his inaugural budget plan, promising to make “the tough choices necessary to … put our nation on sound fiscal footing.”

Seven years later, a new Congressional Budget Office report reveals that Obama will bequeath chronic and rising deficits, rapidly expanding debt, and exploding health care costs to his successors.

First, there’s the deficit, which the CBO says will top $1 trillion in six years, and continue climbing. Over the next decade, deficits will total more than $9 trillion. The CBO’s outlook has worsened significantly since its last forecast, mainly because it expects the economy to grow more slowly.

…And while Obama had promised that his health care reform would “bend the cost curve down,” it has instead turbocharged federal spending on health care. In fact, in 2015, for the first time ever, federal spending on health care programs exceeded Social Security spending.

The CBO says that Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare and other health program costs climbed 13% last year, are expected to go up another 11% this year and double over the next decade. ObamaCare’s annual subsidy cost will hit $109 billion by 2026. By 2026, health spending will account for nearly a third of all federal spending.

President Obama did not create this problem alone. He had the help of Congressmen who represent the Washington establishment rather than the American people. It is time for ALL Americans to take a good look at their Congressmen (and Congresswomen) and their voting records. If your Congressman has consistently voted for more spending and voted against ending ObamaCare, it is time for him to come home and live under the economy he created. It is time for state governors to take a good look at the concept of nullification to see if they can regain the state sovereignty they have lost in recent years. Even the small step of refusing federal money in an area can have a very positive effect on a state’s economy (one example). Our current fiscal policies will not lead to future success.

The article concludes:

The CBO report also makes clear that Obama’s tax hikes have been swamped by out-of-control spending.

Revenue as a share of GDP will be slightly above 18% over the next decade, which is higher than the 17.4% average for the previous 50 years.

But federal outlays — which averaged 20% of GDP over the previous 50 years — will climb from an already high 21% this year to 23% by 2026. Worse, almost two-thirds of the entire federal budget will go towards entitlement programs.

Not only did Obama not solve any of the problems he promised to, he’s also made all of them worse. This isn’t the legacy Obama and his supporters will brag about. But it is the legacy that future presidents will have to confront.