But There Is No Crisis

It’s pretty obvious to anyone paying attention that our southern border is being flooded with people entering American illegally. Many of those people are young children who have made the perilous journey and are now coming into the country looking for relatives who are already here. At some point, through chain migration policies, families will be reunited. At some future date, Democrats will magically make all of the illegals legal citizens. However, the current situation at the border is horrendous.

Yesterday Red State reported the following:

Biden spokesperson Jen Psaki has repeatedly told reporters that there is no crisis at the border. 

There is no surge at the border, people are merely “presenting” at the border.

They aren’t keeping kids in cages at the border, they are keeping them in “soft-sided structures” that they can’t leave.

While the people currently running this country have become the living embodiment of a CNN “mostly peaceful protests” meme, the crisis has continued to grow exponentially with no end in site. The Biden Administration is rumored to be in a bit of chaos behind the scenes as they struggle to message the deluge of illegal aliens currently streaming over the border on a daily basis.

The article continues with the following tweet:

Basically, the message in the tweet is:

Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking interested candidates to serve up to a 120-day voluntary deployment detail as part of the HHS, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Unaccompanied Children (UC) Program, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and HHS are calling upon our Federal Agency family of exception public servants to lend support to this humanitarian effort through this detail opportunity. This opportunity provides a continuum of care for children, including placements in foster care, shelter and residential care providers that provide temporary housing and to assist with caring for and placing children without legal immigration status…

…Details will involve contact with migrant children and a variety of other federal and non-federal entities, possibly including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other HHS employees. This is a reimbursement detail. Travel, lodging and per diem will be provided.

Just finish the wall and the problem will drastically decrease.

 

Does This Concern Anyone?

Yesterday The National Pulse posted an article about Dr. Rachel Levine, President Joe Biden’s pick for Assistant Secretary of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). On Thursday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a nomination hearing for Dr. Rachel Levine. Dr. Levine was formerly the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Pennsylvania was one of the states that sent Covid patients into nursing homes. At the same time Covid patients were sent into nursing homes, Dr. Levine quietly moved one of her parents out of a nursing home to a safer location. Rules for thee, but not for me. However, that is the least of the problems with this nominee.

The article reports:

Most alarmingly, Dr. Levine has advocated for sex changes for pre-pubertal people, otherwise known as “children.”

A professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine, Levine has given lectures in various settings since at least 2012 on how to perform sex changes and gender conversion therapy on children.

According to Levine, children ought to be given the latitude to choose their own gender. Levine has advised adults to “try not to force them one way or other [sic]” and instead to follow the child’s lead.

“For prepubertal children,” Levine said in a 2017 speech at Franklin & Marshall College, “they might present in different ways. They might present at school in the gender they were identified at birth, or they might present as the other gender, or they might be more gender-fluid.” Levine has described children as young as five or six as “knowing” which gender they wanted to be.

Once, however, the child reaches the “young adolescent” stage, Dr. Levine recommends puberty blockers, a practice which Dr. Levine apparently followed at Penn State Hershey Medical Center as Chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders. In speeches, Levine describes prescribing puberty blockers and cross-gender hormone injections to children who expressed anxiety about the natural process of puberty.

Additionally, Levine has expressed doubts about the “controversial” requirement in some standards of medical ethics that patients receive psychological evaluations before undergoing such drastic medical regimens.

The current protocols for gender-dysphoric youth, Levine stated in a 2017 speech, outline a two-step process: the prescription of puberty-blockers during the first stages of puberty, and then, after continued counselling, the introduction of cross-gender hormones between the ages of 14 and 16. Then, around age 18, the patient may undergo surgery. But, as Levine noted, there are sometimes exceptions. In certain instances, Levine has said, surgical procedures may be performed on patients under the age of 18.

Dr. Levine is transgender. I guess she just wants to share her experience with children. This person should not be allowed to assume any leadership position in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under any circumstances.

Where Your Tax Money Goes

Just the News posted an article today about ‘improper payments’ made by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2019.

The article reports:

The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just the News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The award is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s. 

This week, our award goes to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for spending $106.7 billion on improper payments during 2019.

Improper payments are defined under federal law as “payments made by the government to the wrong person, in the wrong amount, or for the wrong reason.”

The article continues:

According to a new report from Open the Books, improper payments from the Medicaid and Medicare programs have increased significantly in the past decade, in part due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — also called Obamacare. In 2011, when the act was signed into law, Congress declared it would help pay for the expensive plan by rooting out waste, fraud and corrupt spending within the Medicare and Medicaid sections of the agency.

Health and Human Services is the leading source of improper payments in the entire U.S. government, dwarfing by a magnitude of multiples the second-worst offender, which in 2019 was the Department of Treasury.

You would think that if they realized that they were ‘improper payments’, they would be able to get the money back. You would be wrong, but you might think that.

The article explains:

Once the taxpayer money is mistakenly spent, it is very hard for the government to claw it back. Of the $106.7 billion HHS squandered on improper payments in fiscal year 2019, it has been able to identify for recovery only $14.1 billion, or about 13.2% of the total. Of that $14.1 billion, the department has been able to “recapture” about $12.1 billion.

We need to put a bunch of accountants in charge of our government. Maybe they could straighten this mess out.

 

Transparency Is Always A Good Idea

Yesterday The Epoch Times reported that Judge Carl Nichols with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Trump administration can compel hospitals and insurers to publish negotiated costs for health care services that are normally kept secret from patients. This is wonderful news for patients in hospitals although I suspect that the medical community is not happy with the decision.

The article reports:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) introduced a rule in November 2019 that defined “standard charges,” laid out the publication requirements for hospitals and insurers, and the department’s enforcement plans.

At the time, hospital and insurer organizations and advocacy groups objected to the agency’s proposals, disputing that the Trump administration has the authority to require the disclosures, which they believe are trade secrets. The hospitals also disputed that the policy would benefit consumers and lead to lower costs, countering that compliance would instead be too burdensome and “get in the way” of providing services for patients.

The finalization of the rule, which goes into effect January 2021, prompted the American Hospital Association (AHA) to sue, arguing that the White House didn’t have the authority to make the directive, had violated the First Amendment in its creation, and had acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner.

The article concludes:

Trump’s executive order on improving transparency on health care prices and quality required the HHS secretary to propose a regulation to publicly post standard charge information “in an easy-to-understand, consumer-friendly, and machine-readable format using consensus-based data standards that will meaningfully inform patients’ decision making and allow patients to compare prices across hospitals.”

It also requires hospitals to regularly update the posted information.

David Mitchell, the founder of advocacy group Patients For Affordable Drugs, said in a statement to The Epoch Times in response to the ruling that he thinks “we have to get rid of our system in which prices are secret and hidden from those who must pay them.”

This is good news for the people who pay for hospital care.

The Impact Of President Trump’s Judicial Appointments

Yesterday The Daily Caller reported that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the Trump administration can continue stripping federal funding from clinics that offer abortions. Note that he did not shut down the clinics–he just said that they would not receive federal funding. That ruling is an example of the impact President Trump’s judicial appointments have had on the Ninth Circuit.

Yesterday Fox News reported:

President Trump has reshaped the “notoriously liberal” U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, according to Carrie Severino, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network’s chief counsel and policy director, who noted it was often referred to as the “Ninth Circus.”

The former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made the comments Monday on “Fox & Friends” in response to a Los Angeles Times article titled “Trump has flipped the 9th Circuit — and some new judges are causing a ‘shock wave.’”

The article said that when President Trump talks about his accomplishments in office, “he frequently mentions his aggressive makeover of a key sector of the federal judiciary — the circuit courts of appeal, where he has appointed 51 judges to lifetime jobs in three years.”

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which encompasses California, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, Guam, Oregon and Washington, was a liberal bastion that has been aggressively reshaped into a more moderate court by the Trump administration.

The Daily Caller notes:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) followed the decision in June by alerting clinics that it would enforce the administration’s ban. Planned Parenthood withdrew from the Title X federal family planning program, thereby forgoing about $60 million a year, in August 2019 rather than comply with this decision.

The Daily Caller article includes a screenshot of a comment by Leana Wen, M.D., a former president of Planned Parenthood. She comments that she will continue to fight so that millions of women across the country can receive care. Note the vocabulary used here–abortion is being framed as care. In a stretch of logic I suppose you could consider abortion care for the mother, but it is definitely not care for the baby. By controlling the vocabulary, Dr. Wen seeks to control the argument. The government should not be funding clinics that lead women to abortions–they should be funding clinics that lead women to prenatal care and support for their pregnancy.

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.

One Example Of Why ObamaCare Needs To Be Repealed Immediately

The following excerpts are part of a Department of Health and Human Services Report from the Office of the Inspector General. The report states, “Colorado Did Not Correctly Expend Establishment Grant Funds For Establishing A Health Insurance Marketplace.” The report can be found on the Internet here.

The mission of the Office of Inspector General (OIG), as mandated by Public Law 95-452, as amended, is to protect the integrity of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) programs, as well as the health and welfare of beneficiaries served by those programs. This statutory mission is carried out through a nationwide network of audits, investigations, and inspections conducted by the following operating components:

Office of Audit Services

Office of Evaluation and Inspections

Office of Investigations

Office of Counsel to the Inspector General

The report explains why the agency did the review–the review was part of a series of reviews of establishment grants for State marketplaces across the Nation. You can read the details if you choose, but the details are not what is important here–what is important is that the Federal and State governments never work as well as the free market.

This is the list of what the review found:

1. The Colorado marketplace did not expend $9,678,635 of Federal establishment grant funds in accordance with Federal requirements. Specifically, the Colorado marketplace:did not adequately document $4,398,333 in costs that it charged to the establishment grants;

2. charged the establishment grants $4,504,799 for unallowable hardware and software operational support and maintenance contract costs whose periods of benefit occurred after December 31, 2014;

3. improperly transferred costs totaling $312,449 from one establishment grant to another without demonstrating that these cost transfers were performed to correct bookkeeping or clerical errors;

4. did not efficiently and effectively administer establishment grant funds totaling $463,054 consisting of improperly awarded executive and employee bonuses, overpayments to subgrantees, unallowable promotional giveaway items, excessive and unreasonable tips, vendor rebates that were received but not credited to the establishment grants, and unallowable social activities;

5. drew down establishment grant funds that it did not immediately use;

6. entered into contracts with consultants and other contractors that did not conform to Federal and State requirements and the Colorado marketplace’s own policies on contract administration, including approval procedures and required contract information; and

7. engaged in a number of procedures and practices that, contrary to Federal requirements and cost principles and, in some cases, to the Colorado marketplace’s own  policies, (1) required the use of personal credit cards to purchase equipment, supplies, and services for the marketplace, (2) permitted self-approval of purchases on behalf of the previous executive staff, (3) permitted incomplete and inadequate disclosure of possible conflicts of interest, (4) did not properly document inventory of equipment, and (5) allowed the use of establishment grant funds to purchase equipment for a previous Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who kept it for personal use when the CEO left the organization.

These findings were caused by a lack of adequate stewardship of Federal funds. Specifically, the Colorado marketplace had not developed, finalized, and implemented policies and procedures to ensure that it expended and accounted for establishment grant funds in accordance with Federal, State, and Colorado marketplace requirements.

This is a chart showing the bonuses given:

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article about this report today.

The article concludes:

Later in the report, the IG explains that this was spent on a holiday party, with “cake, punch, holiday cards, and decorations.” Why the Colorado exchange felt it necessary to charge the federal government for those expenses will be one of the more interesting explanations we’ll hear … if we ever do hear it. At any rate, such expenses are explicitly prohibited from federal grants, as the IG points out in the report.

The whole report is damning for the arrogance of the bureaucracy when it came to spending federal grant money, especially on a flop like ObamaCare. One has to wonder just how many other states have used their federal grant money in such a cavalier manner, and for little purpose in the end.

It might be a good idea to note at this time what the planned future of ObamaCare actually was. Had Hillary Clinton been elected as President, the Democrats in Congress would have acknowledged that ObamaCare had failed and suggested a single-payer (read that ‘government run’) healthcare program similar to what Canada and the U.K. have to replace ObamaCare. When Donald Trump was elected, things got complicated for the Democrats. As I write this, they are fighting to preserve ObamaCare long enough so that it can fail and be replaced by single-payer healthcare. Hopefully the Republicans will not let that happen and will repeal ObamaCare quickly.

Let’s get the government out of healthcare.