Getting Old In American Just Got Worse

Generally speaking, American senior citizens get reasonable medical care. Medicare takes care of joint replacements, cataracts, and other senior-related ailments. However, that is about to change.

Yesterday The New York Post posted an article discussing changes President Obama is about to make to Medicare. The changes President Obama is suggesting will impact the quality of life that American senior citizens now enjoy.

The article reports:

The president’s Medicare reforms make it harder for seniors to get joint replacements. His new payment rules shortchange doctors, discouraging them from accepting Medicare in the first place. New ER rules clobber seniors with bills for “observation care.” Under ObamaCare, hospitals get bonuses for spending less per senior, despite having higher death rates and infection rates.

Expect the Medicare Trustees’ annual report, due out Wednesday, to ignore these problems.

…The new rules also make seeing Medicare patients a money loser. Annual fee increases for doctors are capped at a fraction of one percent — even though rents and other costs go up every year.

No wonder nine out of 10 solo practitioners admit they’ll avoid Medicare patients — right when 10,000 new baby boomers are joining each day.

Obama’s rules spell trouble for seniors with cancer. Doctors administering chemotherapy are getting a pay cut and being prodded to choose the cheapest drug, regardless of which medication is best for their patient. Dr. Debra Patt warned Congress this’ll hinder access to drugs like the immunotherapy that subdued former President Jimmy Carter’s cancer.

Another Obama rule penalizes hospitals for doing hip and knee replacements on patients likely to need rehab after surgery, causing hospitals to shun older patients with complex conditions. Grandma will have to settle for the painkiller as candidate Obama notoriously suggested.

…Clinton proposes opening Medicare to people in their 50s. That would force seniors to compete with younger patients for resources — like in Britain and Canada, where seniors are labeled “bed blockers,” and certain treatments are reserved for younger patients with more life ahead.

When ObamaCare was first enacted, there were discussions about denying care to senior citizens–we all remember Sarah Palin‘s claim that ‘death panels’ were built into ObamaCare (which actually turned out to be true). My real question in all of this is whether or not the politicians who are going along with these ‘reforms’ are going to have to live under them.

I’m Sure There Is Another Side To This Story, But I Haven’t Heard It

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal posted an article about Medicare cutting back the work of the auditors that oversee the program.

The article reports:

Recovery audit contractors, as they are known, recouped $2.4 billion in improper payments in 2014, down from $3.7 billion in 2013 before the agency scaled back other audit activities and temporarily suspended the program for several months, according to a Medicare report.

Starting in January, the auditors will be able to review only 0.5% of the claims the agency pays to each hospital or provider every 45 days, according to an Oct. 28 letter to the contractors. That is a quarter of the prior threshold: 2% of claims.

The article concludes:

Those recoveries represent just a fraction of the total amount Medicare estimates it spends on incorrect payments. The Medicare program made $58 billion in improper payments to medical providers and health plans in 2014, according to PaymentAccuracy.gov, a federal website that tracks agencies’ estimates of waste.

Separate contractors and the Justice Department separately pursue fraudulent payments from the program.

I hate to be difficult here, but $58 billion is not pocket change. As federal budget deficits increase, we need to look at the places where we are spending money needlessly. Fraudulent claims made to various agencies might be a really good place to start.

Here is another thing to think about when you consider budget deficits. According to a Huffington Post article from 2013:

According to the U.S. Census about 57 million, or 1 in 5 Americans, live with disabilities, and about 38 million or 1 in 10 has a severe disability. The Social Security disability programs provide vital support only to those with the most significant disabilities — about 14 million children and working-age adults.

I am not ready to believe that 1 in 5 Americans is disabled or that 14 million Americans are disabled. That number seems extremely high to me. That might be another thing to look at when examining the budget.

A Rather Interesting Definition Of Equality

Lately there has been much discussion about what health insurance should cover and what it should not cover. Obamacare has added to that discussion by requiring that approved insurance policies cover pediatric dental care for single people or that single men have coverage for birth control. Yet many cancer patients and people with serious diseases have found that they are not fully covered. We have heard their stories.

I have previously posted stories about Robert, now Michelle, Kosilek (rightwinggranny.com and rightwinggranny.com), a convicted murderer currently serving prison time in Massachusetts. These stories have focused on Mr. Kosilek’s battle to force the Massachusetts taxpayers to pay for his sex-change operation so that he can spend his time in prison as Michelle Kosilek. The latest decision to come down from the Massachusetts court was that the taxpayers should also pay for Mr. Kosilek’s legal expenses in this case.

Now a taxpayer has gone to the courts claiming discrimination in this case. Today’s Boston Herald is reporting that Anita T. Phoenix, 59, a Cambridge transgender woman, has filed a federal lawsuit earlier this month claiming that Medicare and MassHealth discriminated against her because they would not pay for her transgender treatments.

The article reports:

State Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), who has supported the Department of Correction in the Kosilek fight, said the lawsuit shows the dangers of the controversial case.

“It will open the door not only to other law-abiding people to make that claim, but people who are incarcerated to seek other forms of surgery that they wouldn’t otherwise obtain,” said Tarr. “What we’re talking about here are extraordinary measures that most citizens can’t afford and wouldn’t undertake. If we set a precedent in allowing Kosilek to obtain this kind of surgery, what we’d essentially be doing is opening the door for all different types of surgeries that are extraordinary to become the subject of entitlement.”

In 2012, federal Judge Mark Wolf ruled the state must pay for Kosilek’s surgery. DOC is making preparations for the operation should a pending appeal fail.

It seems to me that Mr. Kosilek’s and Ms. Phoenix’s is, to some degree, elective surgery. Health insurance does not pay for face lifts or Lasik eye surgery because they are considered optional. When I had cataract surgery, the toric lens they implanted was not covered by my insurance–I had to pay for it–the insurance company would have paid for a lens that had no prescription, but that would have left me still paying for eyeglasses. Frankly, I am much more sympathetic to Ms. Phoenix’s cause than I am for Mr. Kosilek’s cause. It would be a travesty of justice if Mr. Kosilek, a convicted murderer, has access to free health care that Ms. Phoenix, an average taxpayer, is not able to access freely under her health insurance.

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Where Does Your Tax Money Go

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article showing some of the details of President Obama’s proposed budget.

The article includes the following chart:

This chart illustrates the fact that 70% of all the money the federal government spends will be in the form of direct payments to individuals.

The article reports:

In effect, the government has become primarily a massive money-transfer machine, taking $2.6 trillion from some and handing it back out to others. These government transfers now account for 15% of GDP, another all-time high. In 1991, direct payments accounted for less than half the budget and 10% of GDP.

…Where do these checks go? The biggest chunk, 38.6%, goes to pay health bills, either through Medicare, Medicaid or ObamaCare. A third goes out in the form of Social Security checks. Only 21% goes toward poverty programs — or “income security” as it’s labeled in the budget — and a mere 5% ends up in the hands of veterans.

The fact that so much of the federal spending is going toward direct payments makes it very difficult to cut the budget. Rather than cut these payments, the government is forced to cut programs it is actually constitutionally required to fund, such as defense.

The bottom line here is simple. We need to elect fiscal conservatives to Congress. We have reached the point where Democrats and establishment Republicans are no longer fighting over cutting spending–they are simply fighting over who will control the out-of-control spending. It is time for a change. It is also time to understand that Democrats and establishment Republicans will be working against that change.

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Cutting Medicare Home Health Benefits To Fund ObamaCare

On Friday the Washington Times posted an article about cuts to home health care for senior citizens. These cuts of 14 percent, or an estimated $22 billion, were part of ObamaCare.

The article reports:

How did home health care save money for taxpayers? Using 2009 as a reference year, Medicare’s average Part A and Part B payment for a home health care visit was $145, compared to $373 per day in a skilled nursing facility or a whopping $1,805 per day in a hospital. In addition, according to one leading expert, skilled home health care services saved the Medicare program $2.8 billion during the most recent three-year period. Approximately $670 million of that savings is attributable to 20,000 fewer hospital readmissions.

This is either extremely short-sightedness, or another attempt by the Obama Administration to cut the amount of healthcare available to senior citizens. It doesn’t save money–it just takes healthcare away from our most vulnerable citizens.

The article details the impact this will have on businesses that provide home health care:

It will hit the small businesses that provide home health care nationwide, and is already doing so. More than 90 percent of those providing home health care are small businesses. According to the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 40 percent of these companies will be operating “at a loss” — that is, they will likely fold or end up in bankruptcy — by 2017 as a result of the cut. What does that mean? It means nearly 5,000 more Medicare home health care providers may go out of business, and nearly 500,000 more jobs within this flogged industry may be wiped out to fund Obamacare. Those who care about such things should put that into their future unemployment calculations — and then thank Mr. Obama and his congressional friends, who all got a waiver and probably do not worry about home health care anyway.

We will elect a new House of Representatives this year, and we will also get to vote for one-third of the Senate. We need to consider carefully who we vote for. The survival of the elderly in our country depends on our vote. ObamaCare will probably not be repealed as long as President Obama is in the White House and as long as the establishment Republicans have a strong voice, but it can be significantly changed.

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Agreement On Something From Both Sides Of The Political Spectrum

It’s rare when the right and left agree on anything. It is really rare when publications on the far right and the far left agree, but that has happened on the issue of rationing drugs for the elderly. This article is based on articles in The American Spectator and The Huffington Post.

The American Spectator reports:

Buried beneath the avalanche of recent news reports about the latest Obamacare-mandated funding cuts to the Medicare Advantage (MA) program is a related but far more disturbing story — the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken a major step toward rationing medications to the elderly. Since passage of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, seniors enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug program have been guaranteed access to “all or substantially all” of the drugs in several classes of pharmaceuticals. President Obama’s health care bureaucrats, however, have proposed removing three of these classes from the “protected” list.

The Huffington Post reports:

A proposed rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would make significant changes to the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. In short, the rule change affects what are known as the “protected classes” of pharmaceuticals under Part D — classes of drugs in which, under current law, coverage must be provided for “substantially all” medicines. The logic in maintaining these protected classes is inarguable. Medicare beneficiaries coping with serious, chronic illnesses should have access to the medications that they and their physicians have deemed the most effective treatment for their conditions.

Medications are not interchangeable. One drug can have vastly different effects, and side effects, on different patients. Thus, Medicare Part D is structured to ensure that patients who require antidepressants, antipsychotics and immunosuppressants (critical drugs for patients who have undergone organ transplants) have access to the unique medicines they need to protect their lives and health.

…The best way to make Medicare more cost-efficient is to help patients better manage their chronic illnesses and avoid long hospitalizations and expensive acute care episodes. The CMS proposed rule change will do just the opposite. Restricting access to the medicines patients need to manage depression, avoid organ transplant rejection, and treat psychosis will drive healthcare utilization in far more costly ways. That’s a betrayal of Medicare’s promise of access to care for our most vulnerable, older Americans.

The Obama Administration seems to forget that senior citizens vote. Senior citizens also pay attention. ObamaCare may have been passed with the support of the AARP, lulling seniors into a false belief that the it would not be harmful to them, but many seniors are waking up to the fact that serious cuts to Medicare are part of the President’s plan for ObamaCare. Senior citizens and Americans have been lied to about ObamaCare. It is time to repeal it and start over.

 

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What Spending Cuts?

John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line about the omnibus spending bill recently passed.

The article states:

…Which illustrates, for the umpteenth time, a point I have made over and over: budget/spending deals that purport to dictate spending many years into the future are a joke. No Congress can bind a future Congress. When a Congressman tells you that a purported ten-year deal cuts spending in the “out years,” grab your wallet and run. The out years never come.

***Because the defense cap was lower in 2014 under the original Budget Control Act, defense spending does not meaningfully increase from 2013 enacted levels. Nondefense spending, however, receives an increase that is 10 times larger than defense. The 5 percent rate of growth of nondefense spending is almost three times the projected 1.7 percent rate of inflation (see table below).

Spending Chart 02

As you can see, the budget does not decrease–it increases! Then why is the only actual cut the decrease in the cost of living adjustment (COLA) to military retirement?

The article concludes:

The other point that emerges from these spending numbers is that discretionary spending is relentlessly being squeezed out by entitlements. The real constraint on the growth of both defense and non-defense discretionary spending is the explosion in entitlements–Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and now Obamacare. With the Democrats vowing to fight to the last ditch to resist any sort of entitlement reform, and with federal debt having risen to more than $17 trillion–another budget-crusher as soon as interest rates rise again–there is simply no money for the social spending boondoggles that the Democrats would dearly love to finance. I suppose we should count our blessings.

***This paragraph is taken from a Senate Budget Committee report.

 

 

 

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What Happens When Government Interferes In Medicine

Ben Stein posted a story at the American Spectator about a recent visit to a dermatologist. The story reminds us of how much our society and the practice of medicine has changed over the past ten years.

While the doctor was out of the room, Mr. Stein checked the electronic tablet containing his medical records.

The story continues:

I’m a snoop, so while he was gone, I looked at his iPad-like device which he had left behind. It was a medical record keeping machine. It said my name (as “Benjamin,” not as “Ben” ) and then said that I had come in complaining of a rash and itching. It further said Dr. Wang has done a thorough full-scale examination of “all dermatological systems” or similar, had examined my whole body from ankles to scalp, especially my scalp. It also said I was to be charged as full exam, first time patient.

When, a minute later, Dr. Wang re-entered the room, I asked him, “I beg your pardon for snooping, but, sir, I would like to know why you said I had complained of an itchy rash. I don’t have an itchy rash and never did. I never complained about it. Why did you say you did a series of exams on me, not one of which you did? This is a medical record of things that did not happen. It is obviously a billing document.”

To his credit, Dr. Wang looked suitably embarrassed. “Oh, this is just boilerplate,” he said (or something similar). “At the end of the day I would have edited it to show I didn’t do anything much.”

“A full exam, first time patient billing under Medicare?”

“Oh, don’t mind that.” he said.

The doctor said that he would edit the report and it is assumed that he will not be billing Medicare for a full exam that he did not perform. Please follow the link above to read the entire story–it got very interesting when Ben Stein explained to the doctor who he was.

The article concludes:

I went away angry. I am sure Dr. Wang is a fine fellow. Yes, very sure. But… There are hundreds of thousands of doctors in this country and millions of appointments with patients every day. How many of them involve billing for exams that never happened? How many of them serve only the purpose of ginning up revenue for the doctors? Mr. Obama wants to consider how to lower health care costs and he’s right. But what a staggering moral-ethical-criminal problem there is in medical care today. And with what sickening contempt these medical office personnel treat us patients. It was a maddening day.

I would add that most of the doctors I see treat me extremely well. Better than I deserve. But what about the doctors who see their license to heal as a license to steal? Who watches them?

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Medical Care For America’s Aging Population Just Took A Step Backwards

As America‘s population has aged, we have been blessed by some of the best medical care in the world. We have had cataract surgery, hip replacements, knee replacements, etc. We have essentially become bionic as we have had failing parts replaced. Unfortunately, that is changing with ObamaCare–simply as a matter of economics.

Accuracy in Media is reporting today that due to ObamaCare, seniors will not get the care they need:

On Oct. 1, 2012 the Obama administration started awarding bonus points to hospitals that spend the least on elderly patients. It will result in fewer knee replacements, hip replacements, angioplasty, bypass surgery and cataract operations.

These are the five procedures that have transformed aging for older Americans. They used to languish in wheelchairs and nursing homes due to arthritis, cataracts and heart disease. Now they lead active lives.

But the Obama administration is undoing that progress. By cutting $716 billion from future Medicare funding over the next decade and rewarding the hospitals that spend the least on seniors, the Obama health law will make these procedures hard to get and less safe.

The Obama health law creates two new entitlements for people under age 65 – subsidies to buy private health plans and a vast expansion of Medicaid. More than half the cost of these entitlements is paid for by cutting what hospitals, doctors, hospice care, home care and Advantage plans are paid to care for seniors.

ObamaCare may provide all Americans with insurance (assuming that they sign up for ObamaCare), but unfortunately it does not provide Americans with quality health care or access to the doctors and care that they need.

The article concludes:

In addition to the across-the-board cuts, the Obama administration will now impose a new measure on hospitals: “Medicare spending per beneficiary.” Hospitals that spend the least on seniors get bonus points, and higher-spending hospitals get demerits.

Hospitals will even be penalized for care consumed up to 30 days after patients are discharged, for example, for outpatient physical therapy following a hip or knee replacement.

There are ways to control Medicare spending, such as inching up the eligibility age or asking well-off seniors to pay more. Forcing hospitals to skimp on care is deadly.

Research sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (Annals of Internal Medicine, February 2011) shows that heart attack patients at the lowest-spending hospitals are 19% more likely to die than patients of the same age at higher-spending hospitals. Yet the Obama health law pushes all hospitals to imitate the lowest spending ones.

Ignore the political rhetoric and look at the scientific evidence. The Medicare cuts in the Obama health law will end Medicare as we’ve known it and doom seniors to painful aging and shorter lives.

Is this what the Democrats in Congress who passed ObamaCare wanted?

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I Wish Someone Had Read The Bill Before They Passed It

There is new bad news coming out about ObamaCare every day. The President has unilaterally changed the law so many times it seems as if he is making it up as he goes along (maybe he is), and now there is a new twist for senior citizens.

On December 12, the Washington Examiner reported that beginning January 1, there will be major cuts to programs in Medicare and Medicaid that help senior citizens.

The article reports:

An estimated 3.5 million poor and ill homebound senior citizens will wake up on New Year’s Day to discover Obamacare has slashed funding for their home health care program.

It will happen because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services quietly issued a regulation Nov. 22 announcing a 14-percent cut over the next four years in funding for the Home Health Care Prospective Payment program.

The rule cuts Medicare payments to home health care providers by 3.5 percent each year beginning in 2014, for a total cut of 14 percent.

…Nearly a half million skilled home care workers are also projected to lose their jobs over the next four years due to the cuts, according to the program’s supporters.

The cuts may also have a disproportionate impact on minorities and those living in underserved rural communities.

A November 2013 study by Avalere Health, a Washington, D.C., health care business analysis firm, found that two out of three home health care recipients fall at or below the federal poverty line.

The study also estimated that one in four seniors getting home health care are age 85 or older.

Federal officials had discretion to keep Medicare home payments at the same level or impose a maximum 3.5 percent cut each year through 2017 to reach the 14-percent reduction.

But CMS opted to impose the maximum reduction, beginning on New Year’s Day 2014.

The cuts that are being made to Medicare are being made to fund ObamaCare. In other words, ObamaCare takes money from the care of the elderly and uses that money to fund a government takeover of the health insurance agency.

The article reports some push-back from Congress on the issue:

Fifty-one senators appealed in a September letter to Tavenner to reject the proposed cuts to home health care agencies, saying enactment “would raise serious concerns about access to care for vulnerable seniors.”

There were 35 Democratic signers of the letter to Tavenner, 15 Republicans and one independent.

Also in September, 142 members of the House of Representatives wrote Tavenner that “home health is a critical service that allows patients to be treated in a cost effective manner in the environment they prefer — their home.”

Sixty-six House Democrats joined 76 House Republicans in signing that letter.

As January 1 rapidly approaches, the promises made about ObamaCare are becoming nightmares for the American public.

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Economic Justice???

I guess I’m  more than a little out of step here, but my definition of economic justice is helping more people increase their earnings and keep more of what they earn. Economic success should be available to everyone who is willing to work for it to the degree which they are willing to work. For example, a businessman starting a business will put in 60 hour weeks in the beginning of the venture in order to get things started. When his company grows and becomes more stable, he may be able to drop to 50 hours a week. If he becomes wealthy, it is because he has earned that wealth. That businessman should be held up as a positive example of what hard work can accomplish, and every American should be encouraged to follow that example. That is economic justice–you get what you work for and are allowed to keep a large portion of it. It is not economic justice to take money from someone who has earned it and give it to someone who has not.

Unfortunately, the definition of economic justice has been skewed in recent years to embrace the idea of taking money from people who earn it and giving it to those who have not earned it. ObamaCare is the epitome of that concept, and the mainstream media has finally awakened to that fact.

Yesterday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an article about the redistribution of wealth that ObamaCare represents.

The article reports:

Take the New York Times. In a fit of candor, it now agrees with what we’ve said all along — “redistribution of wealth lies at the heart of” the Affordable Care Act.

The paper reported that “economic justice” was Obama‘s real goal in taking over a sixth of the economy.

But to make his plan “palatable” to “middle-class voters,” he had to mislead them into thinking nothing would be taken from them. He had to assure them, in a “semantic sidestep,” that ObamaCare was a win-win for all Americans, when in fact it created “losers as well as winners” — tens of millions of losers, as it turns out.

“Hiding in plain sight behind that pledge — visible to health policy experts but not the general public — was the redistribution required to extend health coverage to those who had been either locked out or priced out of the market,” the Times said. “Now some of that redistribution has come clearly into view.”

Of course, it was visible to Times correspondents as well. But they’re just now getting around to informing voters, after flooding them with pro-ObamaCare stories during the 2012 campaign.

Right now the media is not the friend of the American voter, but we as voters have to take some responsibility for what we are willing to believe. During the 2012 election campaign, the information about ObamaCare was available to anyone who chose to look past the mainstream media. The death panels were talked about, the taking money out of Medicare was discussed, and the problems with keeping your current health plans was discussed–not often in the mainstream media–but those ideas were discussed.

The lesson to all of us is simple–the media is telling us what they want us to know when they want us to know it. If we want to be informed citizens, all of us need to learn to do research on our own. There is an election next year–it’s time to get busy.

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A Simple Guide To ObamaCare

Heritage.org posted an article detailing who is impacted by ObamaCare. The simple answer is everyone, but they posted an detailed list:

If You Have Insurance Through an Employer:  The administration claims that employee-provided coverage will not change–but it will. The administration promises better coverage, but there is a large price tag on that coverage. ObamaCare also requires maternity care for men and for women past child-bearing age. They have to pay for that coverage.

If You Buy Insurance Yourself:  If your insurance is not Obama-compliant, you will lose it. Your new policy will have higher premiums and a smaller network of doctors and hospitals.

If You Qualify for Subsidized Insurance:  Many Americans will be forced to buy insurance plans they do not want subsidized by other taxpayers. The $1.8 trillion spent on exchange plans and Medicaid will be a burden for future taxpayers.

If You Are a Senior Citizen on Medicare:  Half a trillion dollars was taken out of Medicare to fund ObamaCare. The reductions in Medicare spending could cause 15 percent of hospitals to become unprofitable by 2019, and 40 percent to become unprofitable by 2050. That could significantly impact senior citizens access to healthcare.

This really does not sound like a good deal for anyone.

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ObamaCare Is Coming

The Heritage Foundation produced a video by doctors on the impact of ObamaCare. The video is found at the Heritage Foundation website and on YouTube.

The article at Heritage lists the reasons the foundation believes ObamaCare should be defunded:

1. ObamaCare will cause people to lose their current health insurance and their current doctors.

2. Government boards will determine who will receive treatment–not doctors and patients.

3. Senior citizens will suffer because of the cuts to Medicare.

4. Millions of Americans will be placed on Medicaid–a system that is already broken. Heritage President Jim DeMint said in an op-ed this morning, “Expanding a broken Medicaid program is just giving millions of Americans a cruel and empty promise—an insurance card with limited access to real health care.”

We need to defund ObamaCare and put healthcare back in the hands of patients and doctors. Our current healthcare system is not perfect, but ObamaCare will be a nightmare for all Americans.

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We Fought The War On Poverty And We Lost

The war on poverty began in the 1960’s. In 1959, the poverty rate was 22.4%. In 1969, shortly after the war on poverty began, the poverty rate was 12.1%. Today the poverty rate is 16.1%. It looks to me as though we are losing ground–not gaining it.

These figures are from an article in Forbes Magazine posted yesterday. The article points out:

Federal and state governments spend a trillion dollars a year just on these means tested welfare programs, which does not include Social and Medicare. That is more than we spend on national defense. It adds up to roughly $17,000 per person in poverty, over $50,000 for a poor family of three. The Census Bureau estimates that our current welfare spending totals four times what would be necessary just to give all of the poor the cash to bring them up to the poverty line, eliminating all poverty in America. A recent book by Charles Murray, In These Hands, further documents that.

The article also points out that from 1965 to 2008 the total amount of money spent on means tested welfare is nearly $16 trillion–in 2008 dollars. That is double the amount America has spent on military conflicts from the Revolution until today.

The article reports:

One major reason that poverty stopped declining after the War on Poverty started is that the poor and lower income population stopped working. In 1960, nearly two-thirds of households in the lowest income one-fifth of the population were headed by persons who worked. But by 1991, this work effort had declined by about 50%, with only one-third of household heads in the bottom 20% in income working, and only 11% working full-time, year round.

The war on poverty has also destroyed low-income families and increased the number of out-of-wedlock births. It has increased the number of one parent homes and children with two unmarried parents.

Please follow the link above and read to entire article. The article explains the negative impact the war on poverty has had on our society. It also explains how to solve some of the problems associated with the way the current welfare state is funded. We need to change the way we help those among us who are less fortunate. What we are currently doing is not working.

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Senior Citizens and ObamaCare

Admittedly, as a senior citizen, I have a vested interest in what is going to happen to my medical care under ObamaCare. Yesterday the Heritage Foundation posted an article explaining some of the consequences of ObamaCare.

The article reports:

Medicare’s Part A trust fund is projected to be insolvent by 2026 and the total program has a long-term unfunded obligation of more than $35 trillion.

…ObamaCare has already made significant changes to Medicare, namely through provider reimbursement reductions and the creation of an unelected board of bureaucrats, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

The reductions in reimbursement will result in hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities that provide Medicare services not being able to supply those services. As these facilities decrease, the availability of care for Medicare patients will decrease.

The article further reports:

As CBO plainly states, “CBO has been asked whether the reductions in projected Part A outlays and increases in projected [hospital insurance] revenues under the legislation can provide additional resources to pay future Medicare benefits while simultaneously providing resources to pay for new programs outside of Medicare. Our answer is basically no.”

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will also have a negative impact on the care that senior citizens receive.

The article reports:

The board will consist of 15 unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, charged with meeting a newly created budget target in Medicare. When Medicare spending surpasses the target, IPAB will have to make recommendations to lower Medicare spending. The trustees project the much-hated IPAB will need to step up and make recommendations for the first time in 2016.

Heathcare decisions will no longer be between patient and doctor–they will be between patient and government. Decisions will be made according to cost rather than what is needed. Eventually this will result in an older generation that has medical care inferior to the care their parents had–in spite of advances in medicine. Because senior citizens often have higher medical expenses, those expenses would be targeted for cuts.

One of the formulators of ObamaCare was Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Rham Emanuel. In an article posted in July 2009 and modified in March 2012, the Washington Examiner reported:

Emanuel has written in medical journals of how health care should be rationed, with priority given to younger people over seniors and over those suffering from dementia, according to John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). Ezekiel also believes that very young children should be lower on the priority list than younger people who have received public educations.

America currently has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. ObamaCare will change that. ObamaCare needs to be drastically changed or repealed as soon as possible. The lives of Americans depend on it.

 

 

 

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Counting The Real Cost Of The Immigration Bill

I suppose it is necessary to begin this article by saying that I support legal immigration. I think we should make it easy for educated, hard-working people to enter this country without jumping through hoops and spending excessive time and money. However, we have nothing to gain by welcoming people who will be a burden because they do not have the skills to hold down a job and support themselves. At that point immigration becomes another load on an economy that is struggling to move ahead.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article today detailing the cost of the immigration bill currently under consideration.

The article at Power Line reports:

The Heritage Foundation has released its long awaited study of the cost to American taxpayers of legalizing the current population of illegal immigrants. The study, available here, estimates the cost at $6.3 trillion, at a minimum.

…The bottom line is that current illegal immigrants would receive around $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services over the course of their lifetimes, and would pay about $3.1 trillion in taxes. Hence, a net fiscal deficit of $6.3 trillion.

The numbers used in the calculation include such things as Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, public housing, public education, and community services such as police and firemen.

Again, I strongly encourage changing the legal immigration system to make it easier for hard-working people who want to work to come to America. I just don’t want to open the gates wide for people who will only add to the financial burden of the country.

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The Obama Administration Targets Women And Children First

Actually, the Obama Administration targets the elderly, and women and children first. Today’s American Spectator posted an article about a recent announcement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that it plans to cut an extra 2.2 percent from the Medicare Advantage (MA) program. This new cut, which came as a surprise to everyone except Obama’s health care commissars, will be added to the $200 billion in cuts Obamacare has already mandated for MA. What does this have to with low-income and minority seniors? The administration’s new Medicare cuts will come directly out of their pockets.

Medicare Advantage is one of the most popular health care plans among senior citizens. It is successful because it involves competition in the private sector.

The article reports:

… The MA plans are already taking a huge hit pursuant to Obamacare’s $200 billion cut, and they will be unable to absorb these newest slashes in the program without passing at least some of the costs to the patients in the form of increased co-pays and deductibles.

And it is by no means an exaggeration to say that these extra out-of-pocket costs will hit the seniors who can least afford them. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a trade group to which many MA carriers belong, recently issued a report confirming that reality: “Sixty-one (61) percent of all minority (nonwhite) beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage in 2011 had incomes of $20,000 or less; 59 percent of African-American and 75 percent of Hispanic Medicare Advantage beneficiaries had incomes of $20,000 or less.”

…”This reduction in funding will leave many vulnerable seniors with fewer benefits, higher out-of-pocket costs, and in some cases the loss of their current MA coverage.”

It will indeed. As AHIP reminds us, “The Congressional Budget Office projects that the reform law’s payment cuts alone will result in three million fewer people enrolled in Medicare Advantage.” The group goes on to point out that Obamacare is already expected to increase the out-of-pocket expenses endured by MA enrollees: “Actuaries at Oliver Wyman estimate that the health insurance tax will result in seniors facing $220 in higher out-of-pocket costs and reduced benefits next year and $3,500 in additional costs over the next ten years.”

It is time to repeal and replace Obamacare. Otherwise the American health care system will never be able to recover from the damage being done to it.Enhanced by Zemanta

The Impact Of Obamacare On Your Doctor

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal posted an article by Scott Gottlieb discussing the impact of Obamacare on doctors. The article points out that the regulations in Obamacare will move doctors toward being 40-hour week employees rather than being in charge of their own offices.

The article reports:

…Because when doctors practice in small offices, it is hard for Washington to regulate what they do. There are too many of them, and the government is too remote. It is far easier for federal agencies to regulate physicians if they work for big hospitals. So ObamaCare shifts money to favor the delivery of outpatient care through hospital-owned networks.

The irony is that in the name of lowering costs, ObamaCare will almost certainly make the practice of medicine more expensive. It turns out that when doctors become salaried hospital employees, their overall productivity falls.

This is another result of government by special interest groups. In this particular case, the special interest group is the unions.

The article explains:

All of this reduced productivity translates into the loss of what should be a critical factor in the effort to offer more health care while containing costs. Yet hospitals aren’t buying doctors’ practices because they want to reform the delivery of medical care. They are making these purchases to gain local market share and develop monopolies. They are also exploiting an arbitrage opportunity presented by Medicare‘s billing schemes, which pay more for many services when they are delivered at a hospital instead of an outpatient doctor’s office.

This billing structure exists because hospitals are politically favored in Washington. Their mostly unionized workforces give them political power, as does their status as big employers in congressional districts.

This is another example of a law regulating health care that was written without concern for the impact it would have on medical care for individuals in this country. The law was written with special interest groups and government control in mind. It needs to be repealed and rewritten with the needs of American citizens in mind.

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While The News Media Is Focused On Sequestration…

Today Breitbart.com reported:

In an announcement on Friday, however, the Obama administration revealed that it would be significantly reducing funding for Medicare, a move that one health insurance analyst said “would turn almost every plan in the industry unprofitable.”

…According to Richard Foster, former chief actuary to the Medicare program, ObamaCare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage will likely force half of its current participants back into the old Medicare program, originated in 1965. It is estimated that this change will cost Medicare enrollees an average of $3,714 in 2017 alone.

On July 14, 2012, I posted an article (rightwinggranny.com) explaining that the Obama Administration had launched an $8.35 billion “demonstration project” to delay Obamacare cuts to the Medicare Advantage program until after the 2012 election. This was to prevent seniors who were not paying attention from seeing what was actually happening.

To those of us that have followed Obamacare from the start, the cutting of Medicare is not a surprise. The people who were behind Obamacare were known to hold the belief that the group of people the government should spend the majority of their healthcare dollars on are those between twenty and forty–the most productive years. There was a philosophy that the younger and older members of society were not contributing as much as the group between the ages of twenty and forty, and therefore were not entitled to the same quality of healthcare. That is one of many reasons why Medicare is being cut and Medicaid is being increased. One of the other reasons is to redistribute wealth in America. Obamacare has never been about healthcare–it’s about power and wealth redistribution.

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The Scandal In New Jersey Grows

Yesterday the Washington Post posted an article about Senator Robert Menendez and his relationship with Florida eye surgeon Salomon Melgen. The headline of the article reads, “Sen. Menendez contacted top officials in friend’s Medicare dispute.”

At the center of this controversy is a federal investigation into the billing practices of Dr. Melgen. The article details a history of federal inquiries into the billing records of Dr. Melgen culminating with an FBI raid on the doctor’s office at the end of January this year.

The article reports:

But a Menendez aide said Wednesday that the senator did not know Melgen was under formal investigation for possible fraud until the well-publicized raid last week.

“Senator Menendez was never aware of and has not intervened in any Medicare fraud investigation on behalf of Vitreo Retinal Consultants,” his office said in a statement.

The senator’s conversation with federal officials about Melgen’s case was unrelated to the current investigation, Menendez aides said.

“On a separate issue regarding Medicare reimbursement, he has in the past raised concerns with CMS about conflicting guidelines and ambiguity in CMS rules that are difficult for providers to understand and can lead to judgments after the fact,” the statement said. “His interest was in making sure providers were not penalized if CMS clarified or changed the rules of the game retroactively.”

Alan Reider, Melgen’s attorney, said Wednesday that his client has returned the government money in dispute but is contesting the CMS audit finding so he can reclaim the money. Reider said Melgen believes he was following Medicare guidelines. Reider added that Melgen was not aware that his practice was under investigation until federal agents arrived at his clinic last week.

At issue in the reimbursement dispute is Melgen’s multiple use of individual vials for eye injections to treat macular degeneration. Federal auditors have said Melgen often billed the government three to four times for injections from a single vial, according to two federal officials and lawyers familiar with the case.

The government’s Medicare program reimburses providers $2,000 for each vial, so Melgen was billing $6,000 to $8,000 for each vial.

There is also an incident in the article where another doctor criticized Dr. Melgen, and Dr. Melgen threatened the other doctor with a Medicare investigation.

There are a few aspects of this story. There is the salacious part about the underage girls and the private jet trips, but there is also the implication that Medicare fraud is a significant problem. I understand that a Medicare investigation is probably a major pain in the neck for a doctor, but it disturbs me that it could be used as a threat by a doctor who was seen as being able to carry out the threat. That really does not say a lot about the integrity of either our government or of Medicare.

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Borrowed From A Friend On Facebook

Alan Simpson, the Senator from Wyoming calls senior citizens the Greediest Generation as he compared “Social Security ” to a Milk Cow with 310 million teats. Here’s a response in a letter from PATTY MYERS in Montana … I think she is a little ticked off! She also tells it like it is! This goes for both the Democrats and the Republicans and is right on the money!!! (so to speak)
————————————

“Hey Alan, let’s get a few things straight!!!!!

1. As a career politician, you have been on the public dole (teat) for FIFTY YEARS.

2. I have been paying Social Security taxes for 48 YEARS (since I was 15 years old. I am now 63).

3. My Social Security payments, and those of millions of other Americans, were safely tucked away in an interest bearing account for decades until you political pukes decided to raid the account and give OUR money to a bunch of zero losers in return for votes, thus bankrupting the system and turning Social Security into a Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud.

4. Recently, just like Lucy & Charlie Brown, you and “your ilk” pulled the proverbial football away from millions of American seniors nearing retirement and moved the goalposts for full retirement from age 65 to age, 67. NOW, you and your “shill commission” are proposing to move the goalposts YET AGAIN.

5. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying into Medicare from Day One, and now “you morons” propose to change the rules of the game. Why? Because “you idiots” mismanaged other parts of the economy to such an extent that you need to steal our money from Medicare to pay the bills.

6. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying income taxes our entire lives, and now you propose to increase our taxes yet again. Why? Because you “incompetent b*******s” spent our money so profligately that you just kept on spending even after you ran out of money. Now, you come to the American taxpayers and say you need more to pay off YOUR debt. To add insult to injury, you label us “greedy” for calling “bulls***t” to your incompetence. Well, Captain Bulls***t, I have a few questions for YOU:

1. How much money have you earned from the American taxpayers during your pathetic 50-year political career?

2. At what age did you retire from your pathetic political career, and how much are you receiving in annual retirement benefits from the American taxpayers?

3. How much do you pay for YOUR government provided health insurance?

4. What cuts in YOUR retirement and healthcare benefits are you proposing in your disgusting deficit reduction proposal, or as usual, have you exempted yourself and your political cronies?
It is you, Captain Bulls***t, and your political co-conspirators called Congress who are the “greedy” ones. It is you and your fellow nutcase thieves who have bankrupted America and stolen the American dream from millions of loyal, patriotic taxpayers.
And for what? Votes and your job and retirement security at our expense, you lunk-headed, leech.

That’s right, sir. You and yours have bankrupted America for the sole purpose of advancing your pathetic, political careers. You know it, we know it, and you know that we know it.

And you can take that to the bank, you miserable son of a b****h. NO, I did not stutter.

EVERYONE!!!

If you like the way things are in America delete this.

If you agree with what a Montana citizen, Patty Myers, says, please PASS IT ON!!!!

P.S. And stop calling Social Security benefits “entitlements”. WHAT AN INSULT!!!!

I have been paying in to the SS system for 45 years “It’s my money” – give it back to me the way the system was designed and stop patting yourself on the back like you are being generous by doling out these monthly checks!”

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A Concise, Honest Statement About The Fiscal Cliff

Yesterday Real Clear Politics posted a video and transcript of a statement made by Senator Tom Coburn on Face the Nation.

This is the statement:

SEN. TOM COBURN (R-OKLAHOMA): The characterization is no matter where we raise taxes, what’s going to happen wit the money? We’re going to grow the government with it. We’re not going to reduce the deficit, because we refused to solve the bigger problems like saving Medicare, insuring Social Security Disability (SSI). We’re not going to use that money to do anything except continue to grow the government.

So, the characterization is that we’re wanting to protect — what we’re wanting to do is to make sure we have a dynamic economy. And I have no problems, I’ve been out there for a long time with saying those who are making more ought to contribute more, but where does that money go? And what do you do with the money? Do you do something with the money that will actually get us further down the road and fix our ultimate long-term problem, which is we’re bankrupt? And we went off the cliff two years ago when we covered 90% of our debt-to-GDP? And by the way, if you actually look at it the way every other country [does], our debt-to-GDP right now is 120%. Not 90%, not 100%, it’s 120%.

So, if you look at that, what’s ultimately going to happen — one last fact, the average Greek citizen‘s debt, for their country, is $36,000; we’re at $51,000 per person in this country. We’re becoming Greece, and we have a government where we’re willing to pay the taxes for 65% of the cost of it. We need to change that. We need both, we need to do both.

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Some Wisdom From Fred Barnes

In 1995, Fred Barnes, William Kristol and John Podhoretz formed the Weekly Standard. Fred Barnes is also a regular commentator on Fox News, and has also written for numerous publications, including Reader’s Digest, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Spectator, Washingtonian, The Public Interest, Policy Review and both The Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times of London.

In the December 10 issue of The Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes posts an article entitled, “Don’t Go Wobbly.” The article reminds us that although President Obama won the election, he did not win a mandate. He won by waging one of the most negative campaigns in American history.

The article reminds us:

House speaker John Boehner has rejected the president’s proposal as unserious. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell broke into laughter when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined it for him. It’s a wonder even Geithner kept a straight face. Because what the president wants is the same-old same-old: tax hikes immediately, spending cuts down the road. We know how this plays out. Taxes go up, spending cuts never materialize. Obama is also seeking a new $50 billion stimulus. And there’s more. Obama wants to raise the debt limit without the approval of Congress and force banks to refinance troubled home mortgages.

Giving President Obama the ability to raise the debt limit without the consent of Congress is like giving your fifteen year old a credit card with no credit limit. Most grownups don’t have the restraint to handle a credit card without a credit limit–that is why banks set credit limits. Shouldn’t our government be as smart as banks?

The article cites some of the areas of reform that President Obama has asked the Republicans to agree to. These areas include tax rate increases on the wealthy, then limiting tax deductions on the wealthy in the coming year. This represents a serious increase in the expenses of small businesses and will prevent new hiring by small businesses. The President is proposing Medicare cuts–the Republicans need to ask for Medicare reform–not cuts. If we continue to cut the rate at which hospitals are reimbursed for Medicare patients, hospitals will stop admitting Medicare patients.

The article has two good suggestions for Republicans involved in this debate:

To strengthen their hand, Republicans would be smart to stress two things. One is the Simpson-Bowles commission’s strategy for handling the debt and deficit crisis. The Obama-created commission said uncontrolled spending is the cause of the problem, that the best way to gain more revenue is through tax reform, and that any deal must be bipartisan. Republicans agree and should say so loudly. Obama doesn’t agree.

The other is the prospect of a recession. The fiscal cliff is really a tax cliff. Taxes would instantly soar by $400 billion on January 1 and, according to the CBO, would drive the economy back into recession. So might the tax increase of $1.6 trillion advocated by Obama, in addition to higher taxes to finance his health care law that begin next year. Surely the president understands this.

Just as an afterthought–I am willing to go back to the tax rates of the Clinton era as long as we also go back to the spending levels of the Clinton era.

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