Why ObamaCare Was Not Repealed

I used to be a Democrat. Then I used to be a Republican. Now I am an unaffiliated voter because there is not a conservative party that believes in smaller government. The Republicans used to believe in smaller government, but they have forgotten who they are. Yesterday was a glaring example of that fact. The Conservative Review posted an article yesterday about the failure of the House of Representatives to vote on the repeal (and replacement) of ObamaCare. The headline of the article is, “How DARE House Freedom Caucus hold GOP accountable to its promises!?” For me, that pretty much sums up what happened.

The article reminds us:

In 2016, the GOP-controlled Congress passed a clean repeal bill through the reconciliation process. It was sent to Barack Obama who vetoed it, as CNN reported at the time. In 2017, Rand Paul (R-Ky) has offered a bill that does many of the same things, as the 2016 legislation.

CNN reported:

The GOP-controlled House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon passed legislation that would repeal ObamaCare, and after more than 60 votes to roll back all or part of the law, the bill (to) dismantle it will finally get to the President’s desk.

But it won’t stay there long; President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any Republican bill that guts his signature health care law, a five-year-and-counting effort.

The vote was 240-181, largely along party lines.

The article goes on to explain that members of the House Freedom Caucus wanted the 2016 bill to be voted on in this session of Congress. It is very annoying to those of us who have followed this story closely (rather than listen to what the media is telling us) that the Freedom Caucus is being blamed for the failure of this bill. This is simply not true. As usual, the establishment GOP has dissed its voters.

The article concludes:

It’s pretty easy to see who one should truly be disgusted at. It’s not Mark Meadows (R-NC), and the other members of the Freedom Caucus. It is Paul Ryan and his leadership team, who refuse to offer the bill they already passed in 2016 as the model they would use if they had a president who would sign it.

Ryan now has a president who would sign the 2016 legislation that easily passed in a campaign year as the blueprint for repeal. He refused to bring it to a vote, lest it show that the GOP campaign promises mean nothing. The Freedom Caucus is absolutely right to insist that the House and Senate do so.

President Trump is a very smart man, but I believe that he does not yet fully understand the backstabbing that is an everyday part of Washington. I believe Paul Ryan purposely stabbed President Trump in the back. Paul Ryan has become part of the Republican establishment that is fighting to maintain the status quo. The Republican establishment would like to see President Trump fail as much as the Democrats would. As ObamaCare collapses, which it will, the establishment Republicans will be the ones who will bring us nationalized healthcare. That is truly sad. It can be prevented, but it needs to be done quickly and decisively. It may be time to change the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.

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.

 

ObamaCare Is Not Doing Well

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

The article reports:

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

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

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

The article concludes:

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

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

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

Three Phases Of HealthCare Reform Might Not Work

Townhall posted an article this morning about the Republican plan to reform ObamaCare. The current plan being discussed does not replace ObamaCare–it merely tweeks it a bit and changes the name.

The article quotes Senator Tom Cotton:

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), one of many skeptical Republicans, told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday that the three-phase process is a myth. What we see right now is what we get.

“Hugh, there is no three-phase process,” Cotton said. “There is no three-step plan. That is just political talk. It’s just politicians engaging in spin. This is why. Step one is a bill that can pass with 51 votes in the Senate. That’s what we’re working on right now. Step two, as yet unwritten regulations by Tom Price, which is going to be subject to court challenge, and therefore, perhaps the whims of the most liberal judge in America. But step three, some mythical legislation in the future that is going to garner Democratic support and help us get over 60 votes in the Senate. If we had those Democratic votes, we wouldn’t need three steps. We would just be doing that right now on this legislation altogether. That’s why it’s so important that we get this legislation right, because there is no step three. And step two is not completely under our control.”

Somehow, when the Republicans were repealing ObamaCare knowing that whatever they did would not make it past President Obama, they were willing to repeal ObamaCare. Now, when their votes actually matter, they seem to be afraid to make a move. Republicans need to realize that even if they do nothing and ObamaCare collapses under its own weight, Republicans will be blamed. That is the nature of the media. ObamaCare was passed by reconciliation, it can be repealed through reconciliation. It is time to get it done.

A Law We Can Understand And Support

Yesterday CSC Media Group, a conservative website, posted an article about S.222, a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Rand Paul. The bill, called the ObamaCare Replacement Act, would repeal and replace ObamaCare. Currently the bill has been referred to the Committee on Finance. The bill is four pages long. The summary of the bill is not yet posted at Thomas.gov, but you can go to Thomas.gov and put in S.222 and read the entire bill. You can also follow the link to the website above and read the bill.

The following is the CSC Summary of the bill given in the article:

Legalizes Inexpensive Insurance Plans:

  • Ensures that Americans can purchase the health insurance coverage that best fits their needs.
  • Eliminates Obamacare’s essential health benefits requirement, along with other restrictive coverage and plan requirements, to once again make low-cost insurance options available to American consumers.

Protects Individuals with Pre-Existing Conditions:

  • Provides a two-year open-enrollment period under which individuals with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
  • Restores HIPAA pre-existing conditions protections. Prior to Obamacare, HIPAA guaranteed that those in the group market could obtain continuous health coverage regardless of preexisting conditions.

Helps More People Save To Buy Health Insurance and Cover Medical Costs:

  • Incentivizes savings by authorizing a tax credit (up to $5,000 per taxpayer) for individuals and families that contribute to HSAs.
  • Removes the annual cap on HSAs so individuals can make unlimited contributions.
  • Allows HSA funds to be used to purchase insurance, cover premiums, and more easily afford a broader range of health-related expenses, including prescription and OTC drugs, dietary supplements, nutrition and physical exercise expenses, and direct primary care, among others. 

Guarantees Fair Tax Treatment of Health Insurance:

  • Equalizes the tax treatment of the purchase of health insurance for individuals and employers by allowing individuals to deduct the cost of their health insurance from their income and payroll taxes.
  • Frees more Americans to purchase and maintain insurance apart from their work status.
  • Does not interfere with employer-provided coverage for Americans who prefer those plans.

Helps Individuals Join Together to Purchase Insurance:

  • Expands Association Health Plans (AHPs) to allow small business owners and individuals to band together across state lines through their membership in a trade or professional association to purchase health coverage for their families and employees at a lower cost.
  • Also allows individuals to pool together through any organization to purchase insurance.
  • Widens access to the group market and spreads out the risk, enhancing the ability of individuals and small businesses to decrease costs, increase administrative efficiencies, and further protect those with pre-existing conditions.

Allows the Purchase of Insurance Across State Lines:

  • Creates an interstate market that allows insurers who are licensed to sell policies in one state to offer them to residents of any other state.

Increases State Medicaid Flexibility:

  • Enables states to fully exercise current flexibilities afforded to them through Medicaid waivers for creating innovative state plan designs.

Empowers Physicians:

  • Allows non-economically aligned physicians to negotiate for higher quality health care for their patients.
  • Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow a physician a tax deduction equal to the amount such physician would otherwise charge for charity medical care or uncompensated care due to bad debt, limited to 10% of a physician’s gross income for the taxable year.

Rand Paul is a doctor who practiced medicine for more than ten years before becoming a Senator. I believe he understands the problems involved in health insurance better than most senators. Among other things, his plan allows doctors to treat patients who cannot pay and take a limited tax deduction for providing the services. I think that is a wonderful idea.

This is a healthcare plan I can support.

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

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

The article lists some of the problems with the bill:

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

That is both a policy problem and a political problem.

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

The article explains:

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

There are a several significant problems with this new program.

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

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

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

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

That is exactly backwards from what is needed.

The new healthcare bill also fails to reign in Medicaid.

The article reports:

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

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

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

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

Repeal It Or Go The Way Of The Whigs

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

The editorial reminds us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Consequences Of ObamaCare

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

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

The article includes the following chart:

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

 

One Disaster Under ObamaCare

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

The article reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It gets worse:

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

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

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

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

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

Why It Is So Difficult To Drain The Swamp

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

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

The GOP Pledge to America included the following:

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

Well, that promise was quickly broken.

The Heritage Action Brief explains:

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

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

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

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

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

The Facts You Need To Fight The Current Spin

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

These are the five main points from the story:

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

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

As The Discussion About ObamaCare Continues…

The discussions on the repeal of ObamaCare are beginning. This is going to be interesting. The House and Senate have voted numerous times to repeal ObamaCare, but have never had to worry about the President agreeing with their efforts–so the votes really didn’t mean anything. Now the game is real.

Yahoo News is reporting today on the events surrounding the newly-elected Congress. President Obama met with the Democrats and Mike Pence met with the Republicans. President Obama wants to save ObamaCare as his legacy. Congress supports ObamaCare at its own risk.

You can find countless articles that detail the premium hikes and increased deductible for the average American, so I am going to skip those numbers. However, I want to remind anyone reading this about some of the history of how we got ObamaCare.

ObamaCare was passed in the Senate on the morning of December 24th, 2009. All the Democrats voted for it; all the Republicans voted against it. ObamaCare was signed into law on March 23, 2010. There was an election that year. The Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives, and the Democrats lost seats in the Senate. During the debate on ObamaCare, the Tea Party was formed. The political consequences of the law were all negative for the Democratic Party. (There was a serious loss of power by the Democratic Party at  the federal, state, and local level continued during the eight years of the Obama Administration).

ObamaCare was finally passed through reconciliation. That is the reason that it can be repealed through that process. Hopefully it will be. The government needs to get its nose out of healthcare and give the free market a chance to work. The private sector can find a way to attach healthcare to the person rather than the employer so that preexisting conditions will not be an issue. There are three things that are needed to make healthcare work in America–portability across state lines, tax breaks for low-income families to encourage them to get health insurance, and health savings accounts. I am sure there are other worthwhile suggestions, but those are my three.

Meanwhile, Democrats oppose the repeal of ObamaCare at their own risk!

Is Medicare Going Bankrupt?

Yesterday The New York Post posted an article about the financial condition of Medicare. It seems that Medicare is really doing rather well.

The article cites some interesting statistics:

As the new Congress convenes, budget cutters are eyeing Medicare, citing forecasts the program for seniors is running out of money. But federal bean counters have erroneously predicted Medicare’s bankruptcy for decades. One reason: They don’t consider medical breakthroughs.

Another problem is medical ethicists like Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who insist the elderly are a burden and that resources would be better spent on the young.

The facts prove otherwise. New medical findings give plenty of reason for optimism about the cost of caring for the elderly. According to data published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, Medicare spending on end-of-life care is dropping rapidly, down from 19 percent to 13 percent of the Medicare budget since 2000. Living to a ripe old age shouldn’t be treated like it’s a problem. It’s a bargain. Someone who lives to 97 consumes only about half as much end-of-life care as someone who dies at 68.

Dr. Emanuel has some unique ideas about aging, which are stated in the article:

Why would we emulate Zeke Emanuel, age 59, who swears that at 75, he will forego all medical care and let death come quickly? “Our older years are not of high quality,” he insists. He’ll skip them. In The Atlantic magazine, he dismissed compression of morbidity as “quintessentially American” wishful thinking, and mocked seniors for trying to “cheat death.”

Keep in mind that Dr. Emanuel was one of the people behind ObamaCare who espoused the idea of limiting medical care for older Americans. That is one of the reasons it was so surprising that the AARP supported Medicare. They betrayed their own members.

The article concludes:

Too often, Congress treats Medicare as a piggy bank — raiding it when money is needed elsewhere. In 2010, Democrats in Congress paid for over half of ObamaCare’s spending by cutting Medicare. This year, Republican lawmakers eager to control federal health spending should avoid that error and instead focus on fixing Medicaid, the money pit program for the poor, where spending per capita is growing twice as fast as for Medicare. (I added the italics to this quote.)

Medicaid spending now tops $8,000 per recipient. That’s thousands more than is spent on people in private plans. And for all that money, studies show Medicaid isn’t improving patients’ health.

By contrast, Medicare is a success story. It has transformed aging, enabling older Americans to lead longer, more independent lives than our grandparents did. The average man turning 65 today will live five years longer than in 1970. Not just more years. Quality years. What a gift.

Medicare is partially paid for by payroll deductions from both the employee and the employer totaling about 2.9 percent, so Medicare is at least partially paid for. Medicaid is a gaping hole in our pockets that does not guarantee quality care to anyone. Healthcare in America is a problem that ObamaCare has made worse. Hopefully Congress and President Trump can come up with something that provides care for everyone who needs it, but also allows free market competition to keep the costs down for everyone.

How The Repeal Of ObamaCare Will Impact Your Taxes

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

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

The article states:

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

We’ve heard that song before.

The article explains the actual facts:

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

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

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

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

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

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.

What Do You Want Washington To Do With ObamaCare?

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

healthinsurancepremiumsThe article points out:

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

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

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

 

This Isn’t Really A Surprise

How many promises that were made so that ObamaCare would pass Congress have been broken? Do you remember that not one Republican voted for ObamaCare and that the certification of the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts was delayed long enough so that he would not be seated in time to vote against ObamaCare? Do you remember Nancy Pelosi saying, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy?” Was it a fog of controversy or a fog of deception? Right now it looks as if it might have been a fog of deception. Remember, “If you like your plan, you can keep it?” Remember, “If you like your doctor, you can keep him?” How is that working for you?

CBS New York posted a story yesterday about the upcoming rise in ObamaCare premiums.

The story reports:

The Department of Health and Human Services revealed Monday that premiums for a midlevel benchmark plan will increase an average of 25 percent across the 39 states served by the federally run online market, and that about 1 in 5 consumers will have plans only from a single insurer to pick from, after major national carriers such as UnitedHealth Group, Humana and Aetna scaled back their roles.

However, in Arizona, unsubsidized premiums for a hypothetical 27-year-old buying a benchmark “second-lowest cost silver plan” will jump by 116 percent, from $196 to $422, according to the administration report.

The Obama Administration claims that along with these increases in premiums there will be increases in the subsidies paid to Americans buying health insurance. Who pays the subsidies? The subsidies are paid for by taxpaying Americans (most of whom are not eligible for the subsidies). This plan essentially uses the cover of health insurance to redistribute wealth. It takes money away from the working middle class and gives it to the underclasses, insuring future votes from the underclass who don’t want the free ride to end.

ObamaCare was designed to fail. The eventual goal is government healthcare–where the government controls who receives treatment and what treatment they receive. It it important to note that many Canadians come to America for surgery to avoid their own government healthcare. That should tell us all we need to know about the quality of government healthcare.

A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for government healthcare. It is also a vote for higher taxes on people who work for a living. It is also a vote for limits on free speech and limits on gun ownership. That is the world she represents.

 

Using Taxpayer Money To Prop Up Health Insurance Providers

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

The article gives a synopsis of the story:

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

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

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

The article concludes:

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

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

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

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

 

The Unintended Consequences Of ObamaCare

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

The article reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Broken Promise

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

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

I Guess Things Didn’t Go As Planned

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

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

The article reports:

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

The article includes the following graph:

PMPM Chart - Mercatus

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

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

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

 

 

 

Another Reason Your Votes Matter

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

The article reports:

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

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

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

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

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

The article explains the next step:

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

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

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

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

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

A Small Step In The Right Direction

Generally speaking, I have my differences with the Republican Party. I changed my party affiliation earlier this year to unaffiliated. However, every now and then, the Republicans do something right. What follows is an example. There is no point in detailing an alternative to ObamaCare while President Obama is in office. However, he has approximately six months left. The House of Representatives has now released an alternative. Note that the alternative is being released just as ObamaCare premiums are about to skyrocket (probably right after the November election) and many health insurance providers are leaving ObamaCare. As ObamaCare collapses under its own weight, the Republicans have introduced an alternative. So what is the alternative?

The Weekly Standard posted a story yesterday about the proposed plan.

The article explains:

The proposal pairs an Obamacare alternative with Medicaid reforms and the crucial Medicare reforms (amounting to a kind of “Medicare Advantage Plus”) that Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republicans have long championed. As Ryan put it after the proposal’s release, “The way I see it, if we don’t like the direction the country is going in—and we do not—then we have an obligation to offer an alternative….And that’s what this is.” He called the plan not merely “a difference is policy” but “a difference in philosophy.”

Here are a few highlights from the plan:

1. It would dramatically lower health-care premiums. Obamacare drives up premiums though its inept and arrogant way of addressing preexisting conditions, and by mandating coverage of things that people don’t want. The GOP plan would drive down premiums by repealing Obamacare, putting people in control of their own health-care dollars, and letting them shop for value.

2. It would restore liberty while stopping Obamacare’s consolidation and centralization of power and money. Private American citizens would no longer be compelled (for the first time in all of United States history) to buy a product or service of the federal government’s choosing. The flow, like a river, of money and power to Washington, D.C., would be reversed.

3. It would lower Americans’ tax burdens. In addition to raising taxes, Obamacare raises spending—by about $2 trillion over a decade, per the CBO—at a time when the U.S. government is already almost $20 trillion in debt. The GOP plan would cut taxes even versus the pre-Obamacare status quo while saving hundreds of billions of dollars (and hopefully a trillion dollars or more) in spending versus Obamacare.

4. It would re-attract needed talent to the medical profession and thus improve the quality of care. Who, other than the truly committed few, would want to become a doctor under Obamacare’s regime of bureaucratic control over “health-care providers”? (Obamacare, which effectively bans the building or expanding of doctor-owned hospitals, doesn’t like to call such individuals “doctors.”)

5. It would stop Obamacare from being a vehicle for executive lawlessness. At practically every turn, the Obama administration has tweaked, altered, and even funded parts of Obamacare without congressional involvement. Three major casualties of Obamacare have been the rule of law, the separation of powers, and the Constitution.

6. It would stop Obamacare’s taxpayer funding of abortion. As the write-up for the GOP plan notes (citing the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office), insurance “plans that cover abortion are receiving federal taxpayer dollars under Obamacare.” Indeed, “California now requires all health insurance plans to cover abortion services.” Under the GOP plan, federal taxpayer dollars wouldn’t be allowed to fund abortions.

7. Even beyond these six ways, it would also lead to most Americans faring much better than under Obamacare. The exact dollar amounts of the GOP’s non-income-tested tax credits aren’t provided, but if they were to be the same as those called for by the 2017 Project, the Hudson Institute, Gillespie, Price, and Walker, most Americans of various incomes, ages, and family sizes would fare much better than under Obamacare. For example, the typical 36-year-old woman who makes $36,000 and buys her own insurance gets $0 under Obamacare, whereas she’d likely get something on the order of a $2,100 tax credit under the GOP plan (See the chart on page 9 of An Alternative to Obamacare for more detail on this point.) This overdue tax cut would be like $2,100 in her pocket.

Please understand–a Democratic President will not approve this plan. The changes made to ObamaCare have been laws not passed by Congress–the rules have been written by President Obama who has no constitutional authority to make those rules. Companies whose owners oppose abortion have been put out of business through executive orders. ObamaCare needs to go. It is expensive, unconstitutional and damaging to our republic. This is another reason the 2016 election is so important.

What Goes Around Comes Around

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

The article reports:

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

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

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

The article concludes:

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

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

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

Religious Freedom Wins A Victory

The Daily Signal today posted a story about the recent Supreme Court case regarding the Little Sisters of the Poor. I am not a lawyer and do not totally understand what I am about to report (other than the fact that it is good news for those of us who treasure the freedom to practice our religion in our daily lives).

The article reports:

In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court “vacated,” meaning erased, all of the lower court cases and required them to reconsider the claims brought by the Little Sisters of the Poor and others that the regulations promulgated pursuant to Obamacare violate their religious exercise in light of the government’s admission that it could indeed provide contraceptive coverage without the Little Sisters’ collaboration.

…The Little Sisters of the Poor and other challengers suggested, among other things, that the government could require insurance providers to make separate contraceptive plans available to employees whose employer plans do not include such coverage.

This would require a separate enrollment process along the lines of how some employers have separate dental, vision, or prescription plans, as well as separate “insurance cards, payment sources, and communication streams.”

They maintained that such “truly independent efforts to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees” would allay their religious objections because they would be removed from the process entirely.

According to the Supreme Court, “the government has confirmed” its scheme could be modified in a manner that leaves the Little Sisters of the Poor out of the process, as they requested, while still insuring women employees receive contraceptive coverage.

…The ruling means that all the lower court opinions that went against the religious freedom of the Little Sisters of the Poor and the other religious nonprofits are wiped away and their flawed reasoning cannot be used as precedent in the future.

It illustrates that the government could have accommodated the Little Sisters of the Poor all along without affecting contraceptive coverage, but chose not to. And it guarantees that the government cannot force the Little Sisters of the Poor and the other challengers to choose between violating their consciences as the government demands or face crippling fines and penalties.

In the coming months, the lower courts will reconsider these challenges, but it is hard to see how the administration and the lower courts can find a way to get around the Supreme Court’s unanimous order—making the decision a big victory for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The underlining in the quote is mine. I wanted to make sure that anyone who reads this article understands that this entire legal dust-up was unnecessary. It was another example of bullying by the Obama Administration. The Administration wanted to bully any Christian who might want to practice their faith in their mission or occupation into accepting terms of ObamaCare that are unacceptable in Christianity.

Notice also that the Supreme Court decision to ‘vacate’ the lower court cases was unanimous–even the liberal justices realized that what was done to the Little Sisters of the Poor was simply not appropriate.