If It Walks Like A Duck And Quacks Like A Duck, It’s Probably A Duck

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial today about the proposed plan to ‘stabilize’ the insurance market in ObamaCare. The Senate’s solution is to hand over a mere $14 billion to insurance companies.

The editorial reminds us:

The proposal, developed by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, would restore the roughly $7 billion in annual “cost sharing reduction” subsidies paid to insurance companies through 2019.

This money is meant to offset the cost of providing plans with reduced deductibles and co-payments to low-income families. Insurers say that without the subsidy payments, they’d have to hike insurance premiums on everyone in the ObamaCare exchanges even more.

ObamaCare required lawmakers to authorize the CSR payments each year, but they never did so. The Obama administration simply paid them out anyway. But last week, President Trump announced that he was cutting off these illegal subsidy payments. By doing so, he gave Republicans some leverage to force more changes to ObamaCare; they could offer to restore them, temporarily, if Democrats agreed to some significant changes to ObamaCare.

The “compromise” Senate plan worked up by Alexander and Murray squanders that leverage.

There are some things we need to keep in mind here. ObamaCare was never intended to be successful–it was supposed to fail after Hillary Clinton became President so that she could replace it with socialized medicine (single-payer healthcare). When Donald Trump got elected, that plan went out the window. So what are the alternative plans to reach the same result? The lunatic fringe on the left wants to impeach President Trump. Some of these delusional people think that would mean that Hillary Clinton would be President. The logic of that escapes me, but I can guarantee that there is a lunatic fringe that is thinking that way. Barring that, what else can the Democrats do to give us socialized medicine? They can refuse to end ObamaCare. They can keep pouring money into ObamaCare to keep it going until a Democrat can be elected President. They can resist any legislative move that actually improves it. It seems as if all three are being or have been attempted.

I for one am glad to know that we will not be pouring $14 billion into insurance companies. Get the government out of the insurance business, let the free market and the actuary tables take over, and forget the nightmare of ObamaCare.

This Is What Single-Payer Healthcare Looks Like In Real Life

The U.K. Telegraph posted an article today about plans for National Health Service policy in Britain.

The article reports:

The NHS (National Health Service) will ban patients from surgery indefinitely unless they lose weight or quit smoking, under controversial plans drawn up in Hertfordshire.

The restrictions – thought to be the most extreme yet to be introduced by health services – immediately came under attack from the Royal College of Surgeons.

Its vice president called for an “urgent rethink” of policies which he said were “discriminatory” and went against the fundamental principles of the NHS.

…In recent years, a number of areas have introduced delays for such patients – with some told operations will be put back for months, during which time they are expected to try to lose weight or stop smoking.

But the new rules, drawn up by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Hertfordshire, say that obese patients “will not get non-urgent surgery until they reduce their weight” at all, unless the circumstances are exceptional.

The criteria also mean smokers will only be referred for operations if they have stopped smoking for at least eight weeks, with such patients breathalysed before referral.

I realize that smoking and obesity are not good for your health, but should that disqualify you from needed healthcare? What about drinking soda, drinking alcohol, eating sweets? This is an example of rationed healthcare. It really doesn’t matter what the basis for the rationing is–it is still rationing. And if the concept of rationing is accepted, there is no reason why the basis can’t change on a whim. This is another reason why the free market rather than the government should be making healthcare decisions.

Dismantling ObamaCare One Rule At A Time

One of the mixed blessings about the way ObamaCare was passed was the fact that it was an unread law passed strictly along party lines (Democratic Party) and then filled in by Executive Order and orders from the Health and Human Services Department. Many of the mandates and other parts of ObamaCare were not written into the law, but came later. One of the advantages of that fact is that what was put in place by Executive Order can be taken away by Executive Order. Since the Republicans in Congress have broken their promise to the voters to repeal ObamaCare, President Trump is taking it apart piece by piece.

Today Red State posted an article showing the latest piece to go. The article included the following tweet by the President:

The article explains:

President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order later this week that would allow people to pool together and purchase group insurance plans, according to The New York Times.

Association health plans allow groups such as community organizations, churches or professional associations to purchase health plans together. Many insurance companies oppose this kind of pooled purchase, as they argue the plans take healthy patients out of the individual markets.

The executive order is the first step in President Trump’s plan to issue another directive that would allow people to purchase insurance across state lines, though it is still unclear if he has the authority to do so.

“I am considering an executive order on associations, and that will take care of a tremendous number of people with regard to health care,” President Trump said late September, according to The New York Times. “I’ll probably be signing a very major executive order where people can go out, cross state lines, do lots of things, and buy their own health care…It’s going to cover a lot of territory and a lot of people — millions of people.”

Letting the free market reign in health insurance is a giant step back to sanity. Health insurance companies are in business to make a profit, which they are entitled to, and they use actuary tables to calculate those projected profits. If you bring back competition, they will have to compete with each other in the area of pricing, and all Americans will benefit. This is a big step toward making health insurance affordable for everyone. The less the government is involved in health insurance and healthcare, the better it is for all of us.

Remember what Milton Friedman said:

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

Let’s get the government out of health insurance.

Cutting Federal Spending On ObamaCare

The rather feckless Republicans don’t seem to be able to get rid of ObamaCare, but President Trump is managing to clip its wings somewhat. Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial explaining one way President Trump is cutting ObamaCare spending.

The editorial reports:

In late August, the administration announced that it was sharply cutting the promotional budget for ObamaCare as well as money spent on “navigators” paid to help people enroll when open enrollment starts on November 1.

Both cuts were more than justified.

The Obama administration nearly doubled ObamaCare promotional spending in 2016 to more than $100 million, only to see overall enrollment decline by 400,000 and the number of new enrollees drop by 42%. This year, the Department of Health and Human Services is slashing the ad budget to $10 million.

The navigator program was an even bigger waste of money. HHS notes that the Obama administration dumped $62.5 million on navigators last year — who then managed to help fewer than 82,000 people enroll. That’s $762 per enrollee. One navigator got $200,000 and enrolled one person. HHS is cutting the navigator budget by almost 40%.

Not surprisingly, the cuts were treated by ObamaCare defenders as another effort by Trump to sabotage the law.

But then something interesting happened. The private sector mobilized to pick up the slack.

The Huffington Post reports that former Obama administration officials just launched a project — called Get America Covered — that has raised at least as much money from foundations and private groups as the feds were going spend. It’s also established “partnerships with businesses, state officials and local media that will help spread the word.”

When the government gets out of the way, good things happen.

The editorial concludes:

Why should taxpayers fork over hundreds of millions of dollars for dubious federal ad campaigns and to pay underworked navigators, when there are passionate people and plenty of money in the private sector to take on this job?

It’s a safe bet, too, that these privately run and privately funded groups are going to use their money more efficiently and effectively than the government ever could. Plus, they will be able to look with pride at their successes, rather than complain about how the government should do more.

Instead of attacking Trump, these groups should be thanking him for giving them the opportunity to take on this challenge.

As for the rest of us, this is a perfect example of how government programs can be cut without harming citizens. With any luck, there will be many more such examples in the years ahead.

Milton Friedman said it best–“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”

Learning From The Mistakes Of Others

The debate on single-payer healthcare in America has been going on for a while. ObamaCare was designed to fail and be a step in the direction of single payer. So how well does single-payer healthcare work?

On September 8, 2016, Investor’s Business Daily posted an article about nationalized healthcare in Britain. There were some serious warnings in the article about nationalized healthcare.

The article reported:

Before you embrace the idea (single-payer healthcare), you might want to look at what’s happening in Britain right now.

There, some hospitals are moving to ration care for those who are officially deemed obese — that is, anyone who has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Oh, and while they’re at it, they will also ration care for smokers, too.

Why? “To plug a funding black hole,” as the British Telegraph newspaper put it. Translation: Britain’s National Health Service faces such a serious financial crisis that it now has to deny care to some people, despite its claims of “universal care.” And who better to deny care for than two of the most despised groups in today’s modern society — those who are obese and smokers?

This new plan to bar overweight people and smokers from most surgery for up to a year is getting its first tryout in North Yorkshire. But, as Britain’s Royal College of Surgeons has warned, rationing will soon become the norm across Britain as the health care system deals with soaring costs and failing care delivery for its patients. And the impact will be broad: The Telegraph, working off population data, estimates more than half of Britain’s population will be considered obese in the coming decades.

The nightmare stories of bungled care and needlessly dying patients are already legion for the NHS, which is notorious for delivering substandard service to its patients.

The article explains the impact of ObamaCare on insurance companies:

The problem isn’t ObamaCare per se,” wrote Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor for the Clinton administration, in a blog post. “It lies in the structure of private markets for health insurance — which creates powerful incentives to avoid sick people and attract healthy ones. ObamaCare is just making this structural problem more obvious.”

This is a classic example of blaming the victim for your own crimes. Aetna takes a hit of nearly half a billion dollars from a system Reich’s leftist pals in the Democratic Party created, and then Reich blames insurers for greed.

The Democrats who wrote the ObamaCare law knew they would be destroying the private market for health care. But they don’t care. And they don’t care to learn from others, like Britain’s National Health Service, that have already gone down this dangerous path.

Americans would be very wise to heed Britain’s warning, and just say no to single-payer.

Good advice.

Our Government Is Too Broken To Fix What It Broke

Obamacare is not working. The Senators who voted not to repeal Obamacare knew that when they voted. However, the situation for Obamacare has deteriorated further since that vote.

The Washington Free Beacon reported today that he Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance has announced that the Obamacare co-op is now under its control as the Supreme Judicial Court granted the commissioner receivership. The commissioner said Minuteman Health’s capitalization is very thin, and this action was done to protect policyholders and health care providers. In June Minuteman Health of Massachusetts and New Hampshire announced that it was pulling out of the Obamacare exchanges next year.

The article reports:

“Minuteman Health is subject to certain co-op rules that limit Minuteman Health’s ability to adjust its business model to mitigate the impact of the dysfunctional risk adjustment program,” the company stated in June.

“The program also unfairly penalizes issuers like Minuteman Health that are small, low cost, and experience high growth,” the co-op said. “The significant negative impact from risk adjustment has been the principal driver of a reduction in Minuteman Health’s surplus and capital over time.”

If Minuteman Health opts to create a new insurance company, that company will not be subject to these rules.

As I have said before, government programs don’t understand actuary tables–insurance companies do. Insurances companies are in business to make money. That is legal and should be encouraged. When the government interferes with the free market, bad things happen. Obamacare is a shining example of that principle.

 

Avoiding A Healthcare System That Doesn’t Work

It has been understood by those of us who look behind the curtain that ObamaCare was simply a step toward a single-payer healthcare system. ObamaCare was designed to collapse under its own weight (as it is doing) so that the Democratic Party and President Hillary Clinton could be heroes by replacing it with a wonderful single-payer system. Some Democrats (despite losing the White House and being a minority in both the House and the Senate) are suggesting that it is now time to move to a single-payer system. So how has single-payer worked in other places it has been instituted?

Canada has single-payer healthcare, and The Daily Caller recently posted an article about Canadian healthcare.

Some highlights from the article:

“Free” Canadian healthcare is not free, according to a report released Tuesday by noted conservative Canadian think-tank, The Fraser Institute.

The report illuminates that a “typical Canadian family of four will pay $12,057 for health care in 2017—an increase of nearly 70 percent over the last 20 years.”

Canada operates under a medicare system that is understood as single-payer. Not only does the federal government use money from its general revenue to finance this taxpayer-funded health care system, individual provinces also contribute by raising money through special levies that are deducted when Canadians pay their income tax.

The article continues:

The think-tank compiled information from Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information to base its claim that the “average Canadian family with two parents and two children with a household income of $127,814 will pay $12,057 for public health-care insurance this year.”

Barua told The Daily Caller that Canada is in a health care crisis. “Services are being rationed. In our last report on wait times in Canda, we discovered that the average wait time from referral to treatment was 20 weeks. That was the longest wait time in the history of our survey,” he said

The senior economist emphasized that the study was designed to show Canadian families what kind of value they’re getting for their health care dollar. They will have reason to look at things differently if they read this study,” Barua (Bacchus Barua, senior economist with the Fraser Institute’s Centre for Health Policy Studies) told The Daily Caller.

The free market works every time it is tried. Socialism, not so much.

Why Congress Failed To Repeal ObamaCare

For seven years, Republicans promised to repeal ObamaCare if voters gave them the House, the Senate, and the White House. Last week they failed to repeal ObamaCare. What were some of the things that kept them from keeping their promise.

Yesterday CBN News posted an article about some of the things about the relationship between Congress and ObamaCare that were not widely reported.

The article reports some of that history:

In 2009, when lawmakers were debating Obamacare, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, put forth an amendment calling for congressional employees to subject themselves to insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The amendment was unanimously adopted.

“The whole point of this provision was to make them feel the pain if it didn’t work,” Kerpen (Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment) said in an interview Wednesday with CBN’s Pat Robertson.

One flaw in the final Senate bill was that the amendment did not include employer contributions. Consequently, when Obamacare passed, it terminated coverage that members and their staff previously had through the Federal Employee Health Benefit program, which subsidized about 75 percent of their health care plans.

…Senate Democrats met with President Barack Obama in 2013 to address this problem. After the meeting, Obama directed the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to issue a rule qualifying both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate as small businesses, which is a label legally only given to businesses with less than 50 employees.

Kerpen says one person filed “blatantly false documents,” which were obtained by Judicial Watch, in order to sign up 12,000 people in an exchange that should only apply to companies with 50 employees or fewer.

…When President Trump threatens to end the bailouts for members of Congress for Obamacare, he is threatening to direct the OPM to reverse Obama’s regulation allowing employer contributions to exchange plans.

If this rule is reversed, members and their staff would lose their government-funded subsidies and be subjected to paying the premiums people without employer coverage have to pay that make too much money to qualify for subsidies.

“This is mandatory work they’ve got to get done for the American people,” Kerpen said.

This is the tweet from President Trump:

I hope that the President follows through on that threat–Congress is supposed to live under the laws they pass! Insurance Companies should not be compensated for the campaign donations they make!

 

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!

“Don’t Throw Me Into The Briar Patch”

Joel Chandler Harris was an American author who wrote the Uncle Remus stories. Some of these stories later became an animated film by Walt Disney called “Song of the South.” One of the characters in these stories was Br’er (“brother”) Rabbit, who when captured by Bre’r Fox pleads, “Don’t throw me into the briar patch.” Of course, Br’er Rabbit has grown up in the briar patch, is quite at home there, and sees the briar patch as an escape route. So why in the world is a political blog talking about Br’er Rabbit and the briar patch? Because I believe the story of Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox totally explains the current healthcare debate.

Let’s look at the healthcare debacle strictly through a political lens. The best outcome for the Republicans (with a Republican President) is the complete failure of ObamaCare–rising costs, escalating premiums, denial of healthcare to senior citizens and young people, etc. Theoretically, President Trump has tried to avoid this. Had this failure occurred under a Democratic President, the solution would have been single-payer socialistic medicine. Under a Republican President, a free-market solution may be possible, but only after the total failure of ObamaCare. As premiums rise and health insurance and healthcare become more difficult to obtain, voters may get angry enough to remove from office those who had blocked the repeal of ObamaCare. I suspect that much of the Tea Party is already there. Because the Republicans could not repeal ObamaCare, it is still the Democrat’s policy. That may be exactly where the Republicans wanted it.

So where are we now in the healthcare debate?

The Gateway Pundit is reporting today that there is no possibility of repealing and replacing ObamaCare and there is no possibility of repealing ObamaCare over the next two years.

The article reports news from two sources:

From Bloomberg News:

GOP Senators Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito and Lisa Murkowski said Tuesday they’ll oppose a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. McConnell said late Monday the Senate would vote on a repeal with a two-year delay to give Congress time to agree on a replacement, but he could afford to lose no more than two Republican votes to advance the measure.

Repealing the law now and then hoping for a replacement “would create great anxiety for individuals who rely on the ACA,” Collins of Maine told reporters in Washington. “I believe it would cause the insurance markets to go into turmoil.” She said she would oppose bringing a repeal bill up for debate.

Capito of West Virginia said she would refuse to take up a repeal plan without an adequate replacement. “I did not come to Washington to hurt people,” she said in a statement.

Murkowski of Alaska also said she wouldn’t vote to take up a repeal-alone measure.

From the Washington Examiner:

House Republicans on Tuesday were seething with anger over the Senate GOP’s late Monday decision to pull the plug on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Lawmakers leaving the House GOP’s weekly conference meeting said feelings of exasperation and anger have set in, now that the Senate has dropped plans to vote on an Obamacare replacement bill this month.

“There is a lot of frustration, borderline anger I guess, at what really has to be described as some level of incompetence to be able to get together and get something done,” Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., who heads the conservative Republican Study Committee, told the Washington Examiner.

I am not sure the Democrats are celebrating the fact that the Republicans could not repeal ObamaCare–now the Democrats are stuck with a healthcare plan that is rapidly crashing.

 

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.

 

Remember The Promise

“If you give us the House, we will repeal ObamaCare. If you give us the Senate, we will repeal ObamaCare. If you give us the White House, we will repeal ObamaCare.” How about you actually keep your promise and vote to REPEAL ObamaCare. Then you can work to replace it! Otherwise, let’s just throw the whole group out, get a new group, and keep doing that until ObamaCare is repealed.

Yesterday The Federalist Papers posted an article that may be an indication that I am not the only voter who feels that way.

The article states:

It was at a ritzy gathering in a Rocky Mountain resort over the weekend that major GOP donors aligned with the Koch brothers made their concerns known.

Texas GOP donor Doug Deason said he and ten other big Dallas donors are withholding any contributions to the Republican Party until they can actually get something accomplished.

Until then, his “Dallas piggy bank” is closed for business, LifeZette reports. Specifically, Deason wants to see movement on replacing Obamacare and significant health care reform.

“Get Obamacare repealed and replaced, get tax reform passed,” Deason said, according to the Associated Press. “You control the Senate. You control the House. You have the presidency. There’s no reason you can’t get this done. Get it done and we’ll open it back up.”

Deason said he has already said no to two prominent House members – both aligned with the so-called “Freedom Caucus.” Reps. Mark Meadows, from North Carolina and Ohio’s Jim Jordan asked him to hold a fundraiser and he turned them down.

“I said, ‘No, I’m not going to because we’re closing the checkbook until you get some things done,’” Deason said, adding that he even pressured two dozen other Texas-based donors to refuse to partner with them on the fundraiser.

This may be the only way to get things accomplished–cut off the donation money from the big donors. The danger in that is that those of us who are conservatives may not always be on the same page as the big donors.

I have reached the conclusion that ObamaCare may be here to stay. If that is in fact the case, the Democrats are no longer the only ones to blame. The lack of spine in the Republican Party and the desire to thwart Trump by the Washington establishment will also be responsible for the end of private healthcare in America.

Just Repeal–Don’t Replace

The current ObamaCare bill is rapidly collapsing. It was designed that way. The plan was that Hillary Clinton would get elected and we would move to single-payer (totally government-controlled) healthcare. The fact that Donald Trump got elected and isn’t playing the Washington establishment’s games is a problem for those that want government healthcare. That is one of the reasons they are trying so hard to demonize him and get rid of him.

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article yesterday about the current state of ObamaCare.

The article reports:

Roughly 41 percent of counties in the United States could have only one insurer participating on the Affordable Care Act exchanges next year, according to a new analysis from Avalere Health.

This percentage is up from the lack of participation in 2017, when roughly one-third of counties, or 33 percent, had only one insurer participating on the exchanges.

According to their count, there will be 47 counties that will have no insurer participating on the exchange leaving about 34,000 consumers with no choice.

…”In addition to the cost of premiums, insurer decisions around whether or not to offer plans in the exchanges will impact shoppers,” said Caroline Pearson, senior vice president of the group. “Consumers will see fewer choices on the exchange again in 2018, with some counties at risk of having no options.”

This is not what success looks like. ObamaCare has been a failure. The best replacement would be to let the free market rule. Tax credits could be used to help lower income people afford health insurance, but the free market would make healthcare more affordable for everyone.

There are a few principles that would reform healthcare in a way that would benefit everyone–portability across state lines, tort reform, high risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions, and letting the companies with the actuary tables determine rates. The government does not have a stellar record when it comes to running things. There are very few government programs that are not wasteful, inefficient, and expensive. We don’t need another government money pit. It’s time to repeal ObamaCare. Then the debate on its replacement can begin.

Are The Republicans Trying To Lose Their Majority In Congress?

“The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy” (Georgetown University Professor Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope, 1966.)

It is my opinion that the above quote perfectly describes the ObamaCare repeal bill the Republicans are attempting to see to the American people.

Yesterday Reason Magazine posted an analysis of the proposed bill. We all remember the Republicans promising the voters that if we would give them the House, they would repeal ObamaCare. Then they promised the voters that if we gave them the Senate, they would repeal ObamaCare. Then they promised the voters that if we gave them the White House, they would repeal ObamaCare. Now they are trying to sell us a bill that does not repeal ObamaCare. The bill continues the bad policies that have caused so many insurance companies to opt out of ObamaCare. The bill continues the bad policies that have caused health insurance premiums to rise sharply and government expenditures on ObamaCare to skyrocket. This bill will ensure that a large number of Republican Congressmen running for office in 2018 will be voted out of office. The bill should be called the ‘give Congress back to the Democrats’ act.

The article at Reason Magazine explains:

In other words, it is exactly what critics predicted: a bill that, at least in the near term, retains weakened versions of nearly all of Obamacare’s core features while fixing few if any of the problems that Republicans say they want to fix. It is Obamacare lite—the health law that Republicans claim to oppose, but less of it. It represents a total failure of Republican policy imagination.

To understand the Senate plan, it helps to recall Obamacare’s underlying framework. The centerpiece of the law was a reform of the individual market, intended to give those who do not get coverage through work or a federal program access to subsidized, regulated coverage. The law created a new federal subsidy, based on income, for lower- and middle-income households to purchase health insurance. It set up federal rules requiring insurers to sell to all comers while limiting their ability to charge based on health history. It mandated that all individuals obtain health coverage or pay a tax penalty. And it erected a system of government-run health insurance exchanges on which consumers could purchase subsidized, regulated individual market coverage.

Those exchanges have never been fully stable as either business or policy propositions. Premiums have marched steadily upwards; last year, the price of a typical plan rose by 22 percent, and early reports show large spikes coming this year as well. The non-profit health insurance organizations that Obamacare funded have mostly shut down. Large, for-profit health insurers, meanwhile, have lost money and either scaled back their participation or dropped out entirely.

Republicans have repeatedly criticized these marketplaces for being expensive and unstable. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who spearheaded the drafting of this bill, likes to say, “Obamacare is collapsing around us.”

Yet even more than the House plan, the Senate plan retains the essential structure of Obamacare’s individual market reforms. It would likely result in fewer people being covered, and it would not stop the destabilization of the market.

There is a correct way for Congress to deal with healthcare reform–get the government out of it, and let the free market prevail. That would mean a true repeal of ObamaCare. Unfortunately we have reached a point where neither political party truly shares the interests of the American people. The first step in the process of fixing healthcare in America should be the full repeal of ObamaCare. It was a bad bill. The second step in this process should be to make sure that Congress is covered under whatever healthcare plan they pass. That might result in a better product. The third step would be to look at the tort reform that was successful in Texas and see if it could be applied on a national level. The fourth step would be to make health insurance something that could be purchased across state lines. These four simple steps would stop the damage currently being done by ObamaCare. There are other things that could be done–tax credits that help people pay health insurance premiums, health savings accounts, etc., but these could be added later. Right now we just need full repeal.

If the current ObamaCare Lite bill proposed is not significantly altered, it should not be passed. However, what is actually happening here is that the Democrats are moving ahead with their plan for total government healthcare (single payer), which is what will magically appear when ObamaCare collapses. It is time for the Republicans to repeal ObamaCare fully. Then they can worry about how to replace it. Right now, they are simply working hard to remove themselves from office.

 

What Tax Reform Can Do

President Truman is quoted as saying, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” He also said, “You can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook.” We are seeing the truth in both of those observations in the current tax debate.

This is a picture of America‘s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in recent years from the balance:

You might remember that 2012 was the year the tax increases to pay for ObamaCare began. In 2013 the Capital Gains tax increased for high income earners, and the increase in the medicare payroll tax also began in 2013. Obviously raising taxes did not help the economy.

This is the laffer curve:

As you can see, there is a point where tax increases no longer generate revenue.

I am going to assume that Democrats are going to try to block President Trump’s tax reform. I think that is rather obvious. So the question becomes, “Do Democrats not understand economic principles and economic growth (e.g. the Laffer curve) or do they simply want to enslave the American worker?” At this point it is a valid question.

I can understand high-tax states not wanting to give up the benefit they reap in the current tax code. I can also understand all the lobbyists tearing their hair out because their special interest will no longer get a tax break, but at some point Congress needs to do what is best for the country and for the American people. Economic growth is struggling under the current tax burden. Every American who works is giving the government a higher percentage of what they earn than the Medieval surfs paid their lords. That is a scary thought. At the same time, many people who choose not to work are driving expensive cars and living better than the people who do work. The poverty in America that the government is now supporting currently owns a nice car, a big-screen television, an ipad, a smart phones, and central air conditioning. I am all for helping people in time of need, but I think we have lost our way.

Congress needs to pass President Trump’s tax plan. Every Congressman who does not support the plan needs to be voted out of office as soon as possible. Unless the American voters begin to hold their representatives accountable for what they do, the swamp will never get drained. The problem is in both political parties. It is time to take note of the people whose votes help America and the people whose votes hurt America.

 

Has Sovereignty Become An Issue?

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article today about the repeal of ObamaCare. That’s not so unusual, but some of the source of the pushback against the repeal is interesting.

The article reports:

Dana Milbank reports, with glee, that the United Nations “has contacted the Trump administration as part of an investigation into whether repealing [Obamacare] without an adequate substitute for the millions who would lose health coverage would be a violation of several international conventions that bind the United States.” The warning comes from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission (now known as the Human Rights Council) purports to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights,“ Its members include China, Cuba, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.

This would be laughable if it were not serious. So what is happening here? President Trump is not a globalist. Unfortunately for a number of decades, the American government has been run by globalists. Our recent Presidents have been in step with the United Nations and have done things that have put our national sovereignty in jeopardy. Evidently the globalist elites at the United Nations now feel that they have a valid voice on the American political landscape. That’s a notion that needs to be put to rest very quickly. It is a little upsetting to think that countries with such dismal human rights records as China, Cuba, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela feel free to criticize America because America does not want socialism. Let’s look at what poverty looks like in those countries versus what poverty looks like in America.

The article goes on to report:

By way of illustration, one of the provisions the U.N. relies on in this case is Article 5(e) of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, ratified by the U.S. in 1994. It calls on states to “guarantee the right of everyone” to, among other things, “public health, medical care, social security and social services” without regard to race or color.

It is not far-fetched to imagine lawsuits in U.S. courts based on claims that the government is violating this kind of “obligation” to which America agreed. How far-fetched is it to imagine left-liberal judges seriously entertaining such lawsuits? Not very, in my view.

In reality, pre-Obamacare America offered health care to everyone without regard to race or color. It provided poor Americans with free health care via Medicaid. Millions of other Americans received health insurance from their employer. The rest (except those with pre-existing conditions, a matter of real concern) were free to purchase health insurance, if they so desired. The market offered plans that were not expensive — my wife had one — at least not compared to the ones Americans are required to purchase under the Obamacare regime.

No one was denied health insurance due to race or color. Nor, to my knowledge, was anyone denied service — e.g. at an emergency room — on that basis.

The article concludes:

The U.N., through its “investigation,” is claiming the right to evaluate Obamacare replacement packages. In effect, it asserts the right to assess whether the replacement incentives measure up to the Obamacare incentives (inadequate though these are).

The U.N.’s infringement on our democracy is obvious.

It’s not surprising that elites in the rest of the world want to dictate to America. It’s not surprising that many of the left want such leftist elites to dictate to us. What’s surprising is that America has gone as far as it has to provide the tools with which claims like those being made by these elite, via bureaucrats in Geneva, can be asserted with a straight face.

When the United Nations begins to attempt to interfere in internal politics of its member countries, it is time for the United Nations to go away. We need to withdraw our membership, make them pay their parking tickets, and kick them out of the country.

Why We Need A Clean Repeal Of ObamaCare

The Daily Caller posted an article today about the first U.S. city to feel the effects of the failure of ObamaCare.

The article reports:

Knoxville, Tenn., could be the first city in the U.S. where Obamacare completely collapses, leaving tens of thousands of people without the option to buy a subsidized insurance policy.

Humana, the city’s only remaining insurance provider on its Obamacare exchange, announced it is exiting the market in 2018. If that happens, Knoxville citizens will be in a rough spot. Unless another insurance provider fills Humana’s place, some 40,000 people in the Knoxville area will likely be left without the option to purchase an Obamacare-subsidized insurance policy, CNN reports.

Knoxville is illustrative of one of the main problems with Obamacare: It doesn’t promote market-based competition. Insurers pull out of marketplaces where it is not cost-efficient for them to provide services, and, as a result, consumers are left with fewer options at higher prices.

When the government interferes with the free market, bad things happen.

Because of the collapse of ObamaCare, people will have to buy their insurance in the private marketplace. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee have proposed a bill that would allow consumers to purchase any state-approved health insurance plans with ObamaCare subsidies. Again, the government is interfering in the free market.

The health insurance industry is not the villain here. Insurance companies use statistical tables to determine rates. They are in business to make money and should be allowed to do so (although allowances should be made for pre-existing conditions and long-term issues). There are a few steps that can be taken to bring reason back into the health insurance market–tort reform, selling insurance across state lines,  and high risk pools for pre-existing conditions.

Texas succeeded in slowing the rise of health insurance premiums by tort reform. Unfortunately a large percentage of the campaign money that goes to Congressional campaigns comes from trial lawyers. That will make it very difficult to pass tort reform on a national level. This is another reason to get the federal government out of the health insurance business.

Changing the Wrapping Doesn’t Change The Package

Yesterday Paul Mirengoff posted an article at Power Line about the changes made to the ObamaCare replacement bill.

The article quotes Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton:

“Despite the proposed amendments, I still cannot support the House health-care bill, nor would it pass the Senate. The amendments improve the Medicaid reforms in the original bill, but do little to address the core problem of Obamacare: rising premiums and deductibles, which are making insurance unaffordable for too many Arkansans. The House should continue its work on this bill. It’s more important to finally get health-care reform right than to get it fast.”

The article at Power Line states the following:

If, under a Republican plan, premiums/deductibles continue to rise, people will believe that Obamacare’s replacement made things worse. They will blame Republicans and the GOP will pay a heavy price.

No Republican should support replacement legislation unless he or she is confident it will result in better outcomes with regard to premiums/deductibles. If Democrats won’t support legislation that’s likely to produce that result, Republicans should either push such legislation through without Democratic support (overruling the Senate parliamentarian) if necessary or let such legislation be voted down.

Republicans have no obligation to pass replacement legislation they don’t like in order to patch up Obamacare. The Democrats created the current mess. If they won’t cooperate with the GOP in fixing it properly, Republicans shouldn’t take the political hit that would come with pretending to fix it on their own.

I left the Republican Party because I felt that they had forgotten their commitment to smaller government and had become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. The current ObamaCare replacement bill is a perfect example of that. Republicans were told that if we gave them the House, ObamaCare would be gone. When it wasn’t gone, we were told that if we gave them the House and the Senate, ObamaCare would be gone. When it wasn’t gone, we were told that if we gave them the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, ObamaCare would be gone. If this bill passes, it won’t be gone. We will simply have ObamaCare Light, a bad bill that the Republicans would be totally responsible for–just as the Democrats were totally responsible for ObamaCare. That is not a step forward–it is a step backward! Please, Republicans, do not pass this bill. Simply repeal ObamaCare. Then you can fight over its replacement. Don’t break faith with the voters.

 

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.

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.

An Idea To Replace ObamaCare

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article today about a plan to reform ObamaCare suggested by James Capretta and Scott Gotlieb of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

The article lists four suggestions to make healthcare affordable and practical for Americans:

1. Provide a path to catastrophic health insurance for all Americans.

2. Accommodate people with pre-existing health conditions.

3. Allow broad access to health-savings accounts.

4. Deregulate the market for medical services.

These reforms would bring healthcare closer to a free-market system. The suggestions would also take away the provisions in ObamaCare that require people to pay for healthcare coverage they do not need (most couples over the age of 50 don’t need maternity coverage).  The Little Sisters of the Poor should not be required to pay for birth control coverage–they are Catholic nuns. Under ObamaCare they were sued by the federal government to provide coverage for things that went against their Christian beliefs. The idea that the government can tell people what coverage they have to have needs to go away quickly.

President-elect Trump has promised to end ObamaCare. We have heard that promise before from Republicans–give us the House and we will repeal ObamaCare; give us the Senate and we will repeal ObamaCare; give us the White House and we will repeal ObamaCare. Well, President-elect Trump, I suspect you have less than two years to make good on your promise. The anger of the American voters did not disappear when you were elected–that anger is simply waiting to see if you will keep your promises. It is a pretty safe bet that if ObamaCare is still with us in two years, the Republicans will lose the House and the Senate. At that point the Republican Party will go the way of the whigs.

The Real Numbers About The Budget

This is a picture of the federal budge deficits over the years:

federaldeficitsthrough2016The chart and other related information can be found here.

On Saturday, Conservative Treehouse posted an article about an aspect of the federal budget under President Obama that you may not be aware of.

The article reports:

The last federal budget was signed into law in September of 2007 by President George W Bush for fiscal year 2008.  Since then the entire mechanism of the federal government has been carried out by continuing resolutions, raises in the debt ceiling, and unfettered spending.

Absent of an actual federal budget, all spending falls under a process called base-line budgeting to determine allocation.  Federal distribution of the money within the continuing resolution, is essentially a year-over-year expenditure with a statutory increase based on inflation.  Essentially, whatever was spent in 2009 was respent in 2010 along with a little bit more.   What was spent in 2011 was a little more than ’10, and so forth.

In February 2009  congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA, commonly referred to as Obama’s stimulus plan.  The stimulus was just shy of one trillion ($986 billion +/-).

At the time of passage this single stimulus expenditure reflected a growth of approximately 20% in total federal spending.  The spending went directly into the deficit.

Approximately 30% of that “one time” trillion dollar stimulus was spent in 2009, the remaining 70% was spent in 2010.  (*note fiscal years run from October 1st to September 3oth annually).

However, absent a federal budget -and because of baseline budgeting- it became a repeated expenditure in each of the following fiscal years.

The $1 Trillion Stimulus was spent eight more times.

The article points out that most Americans cannot tell you what the stimulus was spent on. President Obama put money into the Department of Education to subsidize state education and teachers’ salaries, keeping the teachers’ union happy.

The article reports:

The key point is the $1 trillion 2009 “stimulus” funds, became a tool for President Obama to use in whatever cabinet office need he saw.

So long as congress never passed an actual budget (and the traditional budget appropriations process kicked in), he would always have this massive amount of extra money to play with.  Obama, Pelosi and Reid ensured there was never going to be a budget.

As the economy somewhat gained footing (2012), for the last several years a lot of the money appears to have been spent on propping up ObamaCare and hiding the structural financial collapse.

If Obama didn’t have this extra $1 trillion at his disposal, ObamaCare would have already collapsed.  If you were wondering why ObamaCare didn’t collapse, well, there’s your answer.

This scheme worked brilliantly so long as Team Obama could kick-the-budget-can into successive years.  They did.

…Remember: #1) Obama’s trillion stimulus was a +20% jump in federal spending which has continued year-over-year since 2009, #2) most of that money is now spent on propping up Obamacare via the insurance corridor reimbursement program.

…That $1 trillion in annual expenditure is what initially kept government at full size when originally passed in ’09.  It then transmogrified into a slush fund two fiscal years later, and ever since about 2012 it’s been a way for Obama to fund his priority list – and the UniParty congress has done nothing about it; because, well, essentially, congress agrees with what it’s being spent on.

It’s a staggering amount of money, $986 billion.  If Trump/Ryan eliminate the worst aspects of ObamaCare they can save a massive amount of that expenditure.  However, beyond that – it shows you just how much money can –and hopefully will– be cut out of government by that elimination alone.

It would be wonderful to have a Congress and a President who want to bring federal spending under control, but I am not convinced yet.