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.”

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 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.

Rewarding Incompetence At Taxpayer’s Expense

On Wednesday, Fox News reported that the government has awarded a $4.5 million IT contract for its new ObamaCare tax program to CGI, the company responsible for the ObamaCare internet roll out. This is an IRS contract to provide “critical functions” and “management support” for its Obamacare tax program. Really? Wasn’t there anyone else?

The article reports:

Prior to terminating CGI’s contract, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress, “I am as frustrated and angry as anyone with the flawed launch of” She called the CGI-designed website a “debacle.”

A joint Senate Finance and Judiciary Committee staff report in June 2014 found that Turning Point Global Solutions, hired by HHS to review CGI’s performance on, reported they found 21,000 lines of defective software code inserted by CGI.

Scott Amey, the general counsel for the non-profit Project on Government Oversight, which reviews government contracting, examined the IRS contract with CGI.

“CGI was the poster child for government failure,” he told The Daily Caller. “I am shocked that the IRS has turned around and is using them for Obamacare IT work.”

Who in the world is making these decisions, and why?

The article reports:

Curiously, CGI features its online health work in Helsinki, London, Alberta, Saskatchewan and for the New York State of Mental Health, but says nothing about its ruined rollout of Obamacare web sites.

In Canada, CGI’s parent company, Montreal-based CGI Group, was just as deficient.

Ontario health officials fired CGI after it failed to deliver a flagship provincial online health registry.

About 7 million Obamacare policyholders and about 20 million Americans who don’t have healthcare coverage will depend this year on the proper IRS processing of their 2014 income tax returns.

Improper processing of health information could cause some Americans to receive smaller tax refunds, or even pay more out-of-pocket for their government-issued healthcare policies.

Welcome to a government run by the Keystone Kops.

Quote Of The Week

Reported at and other places:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated, “The majority of people calling for me to resign I would say are people who I don’t work for and who do not want this program to work in the first place. I have had frequent conversations with the president and I have committed to him that my role is to get the program up and running and we will do just that,”

Also from the Townhall article:

An online (unscientific) CNBC poll shows 85 percent of people think Sebelius should be fired:

 photo ScreenShot2013-10-25at62111AM_zps1a1b8ccf.png

Maybe I’ve missed something here, but I thought Kathleen Sebelius worked for the American people.

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Does Anyone In Washington Actually Take Responsiblity For Their Actions?

The roll out of ObamaCare has been less than wonderful. The problems with the website are monumental, and very few people have actually enrolled in the exchanges.

Yesterday the Washington Times reported that that 202,586 individuals had successfully signed up for a journey to Mars and 51,000 have actually signed up for ObamaCare. So far, no one in Alaska has signed up and 712 people in Vermont have signed up.

Obviously, ObamaCare is going to fall somewhat short of its goal of signing up 500,000 individuals per month, starting with Oct. 1.

On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold hearings to find out why ObamaCare is such a miserable failure. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has stated that she has a scheduling conflict and will not be able to testify at those hearings.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The department is also refusing to make available lower-level officials who might detail the source or sources of this debacle. Ducking an investigation with spin is one thing. Responding with a wall of silence to the invitation of a duly elected congressional body probing the use of more than half a billion taxpayer dollars is another. This Obama crowd is something else.

…Eventually Mrs. Sebelius will have to make a real accounting of this government failure to someone other than the TV comic Jon Stewart, and perhaps she can also explain why the people who can’t build a working website also deserve the power to reorganize one-sixth of the U.S. economy. For now, the Administration that styles itself as the most transparent in history won’t reveal the truth—perhaps because it is afraid of what the public will find.

ObamaCare is a nightmare. It has cost Americans full-time jobs and caused their insurance rates to increase drastically. We need to remember who supported this debacle and vote accordingly next year.


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About This Surcharge Thing…

There are so many twists and turns written into Obamacare that it is hard to follow all of them. Somehow I suspect it was designed that way. Based on what I have seen in the past month or so, it seems that Congress passed a skeleton of a law (if 2700 pages can be considered a skeleton) and then asked Kathleen Sibelius (Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS)) to write the law for them. I will admit that I don’t much care for her writing.

David French posted an article at the website of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) recently that puts some of the recent debate on contraception and abortion in focus. Mr. French cites three basic aspects of Obamacare and how those aspects impact federal funding of abortion.

1. Under Obamacare everyone is required to purchase healthcare insurance.

2. Under Obamacare the government will determine exactly which insurance coverage is acceptable and exactly what health issues will be covered.

3. HHS is proposing a $1 abortion surcharge for people purchasing certain insurance policies if they want those policies to cover abortion.

The article at the ACLJ reports:

According to early reports, individuals enrolled in those plans would not be able to opt out of the surcharge alone and would only be informed of its existence during enrollment. If you opt out of the surcharge, you would have to opt out of your plan entirely and may not be able to find a suitable replacement.

We have lost the freedom to decide on our own healthcare coverage. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will strike down Obamacare, but there are no guarantees that it will. If Obamacare stands, the right of free exercise of religion and the free exercise of religious beliefs will be taken away from those Americans who believe abortion is wrong and goes against the teachings of their religion.



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Sorting Out The Numbers In The Contraception Battle

CNS News posted an article today which showed that some of the numbers on contraception use being cited by President Obama and HHS Kathleen Secretary Sebelius are simply not true.

The article lists the statements made on various media outlets:

“Nearly 99 percent of all women have relied on contraception at some point in their lives–99 percent,” Obama claimed in explaining why he was moving forward with a regulation that requires all health-care plans in the United States to cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives free of charge to all women who, in the terms of the regulation, have “reproductive capacity.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius twice made the same claim—without refutation–on national television programs. So, too, did Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter.

On Feb. 10, the same day Obama made the claim at the White House, Sebelius said on PBS’s “Newshour” that contraception was “a benefit used by 99 percent of women across this country at some point in their lives.”

Also on Feb. 10, Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Cutter, made the claim in two separate appearances that bracketed the day on CNN.

In the 8:00 a.m. hour, appearing with Soledad O’Brien, Cutter said: “This is birth control. This is the pill which women have been taking for generations. It is not controversial, 99 percent of all women have taken it, 98 percent of Catholic women have taken it. The debate on this is over.”

In the 9:00 p.m. hour, appearing with Piers Morgan, Cutter said: “This … is birth control, something that women have been taking, you know, for decades, and something that is accepted in this country–99 percent of the women take birth control. It’s a little unbelievable that we are debating it.”

On March 1, HHS Secretary Sebelius appeared on John King’s CNN program and once again claimed that “99 percent of women take contraception at some point during their health lives.”

Despite the constant repetition, the numbers are simply wrong.

These are the real numbers:

According to this National Center for Health Statistics, it turns out that 19.2 percent of American women age 15-44 are not using contraception and either have never had sexual intercourse are have not in the last 3 months. This included 60 percent of the women 15-19 years old, 20.4 percent of the women 20-24 years old, 10.6 percent of the women 25-29 year old, 8.7 percent of the women 30-34 years old, 7.4 percent of the women 35-39 years old, and 8.0 percent of the women 40-44 years old.

It’s time for all of us who vote to put on our critical thinking ears whenever we listen to claims of this administration about Obamacare and any of its related issues.

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The Cost Of Taking The Politically Incorrect Stand



Big Government posted an article yesterday about a program in Texas to aid low-income women that has been defunded by the Obama Administration. Remember that this is happening at a time when the Republicans are accused of waging a ‘war on women.’ Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), stated Friday that a Texas health program for low-income women will no longer receive federal funding because Planned Parenthood has been banned from the program.

The article reports:

Two weeks ago, Texas state officials announced plans to prevent Planned Parenthood from participating in the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which provides health screenings and contraceptive services. The state has made the decision to exclude clinics from the program that are affiliated with abortion providers, even though the clinics themselves do not provide abortions.

Ms. Sebelius said that the federal government, which has covered about 90% of the cost of the program, will gradually end the program over the next few months. “The waiver will not be extended,” she said. “We’ve put them on notice.”

Federal requirements stipulate that the state is not permitted to exclude qualified providers from the women’s program, and Texas has not received a waiver from those regulations.

Texas Governor Rick Perry has made the appropriate response, “We’re going to fund this program. Listen, we’ll find the money. The state is committed to this program…This program is not going away.”

Governor Perry has directed his state’s secretary of the Health and Human Services Commission to work with the Texas legislature to locate funding for the program. Approximately 130,000 women are enrolled in the program.

Planned Parenthood is a major source of funding for Democrat Party campaigns. Much of the money they make on Medicaid patients eventually finds its way into Democrat campaign coffers. That is one of the things that makes the battle about Planned Parenthood and anything that threatens their income so intense–you are not only taking on Planned Parenthood–you are taking on the funding of the Democrat Party.

The article concludes:

Yet, speaking of her warning to the state that their law would end funding for the program, the secretary said, “”They knew … they are not allowed to deny women the right to choose.”

First, when did something being “illegal” ever stop this administration before?

Second, is Kathleen Sebelius really hoping we haven’t noticed that, while she is telling us “it is illegal to spend any federal money on abortion,” the Obama administration is also forcing the Catholic Church and other religious groups to provide abortion-inducing drugs to their employees, free of charge?

It is illegal for federal funds to be used to pay for abortions directly, but the millions of dollars the federal government gives to Planned Parenthood provide the infrastructure so that abortion is a profitable business for Planned Parenthood. Thank you, Rick Perry, for taking a stand against this.

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He Who Conrols The Language Controls The Debate

Andrew McCarthy posted an article today at The Corner at National Review about the recent mandate issued by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regarding health insurance, contraception, and abortion. Mr. McCarthy points out that conservatives are letting the left control the language and thus the debate, a fact which obscures what is actually taking place.

The left has stated that religious organizations want to deny coverage for birth control. That is not the issue. Birth control is unbelievably cheap in this country–it doesn’t need to be free. The issue is whether the state has the power to make people who are morally or religiously opposed to abortion or birth control pay for abortion and birth control for the people who use those services.

Mr. McCarthy further points out:

Second, how dare the administration propose compromises and safe-harbors for “religious organizations”? I imagine they dare because the usual useful idiots (see, e.g., Michael Gerson, cited in Ramesh’s post Tuesday) are, as ever, warning conservatives not to “overreach” — this time, for exemptions that extend beyond corporate religious entities. The Bill of Rights, however, protects individual liberty from abusive government action. The First Amendment does not merely protect the religious liberty of groups of people who formally organize as a religious enterprise. It protects the individual believer, who has as much right as the Archdiocese of New York to resist government compulsion that violates his conscience. Under the Left’s First Amendment, we’re supposed to be deferential to every Saudi alien Islamic supremacist whack-job who wants to replace the Constitution with sharia, but an American citizen who personally objects to abortifacients should pipe down and pay up unless he’s the CEO of Catholic Charities? I don’t think so. 

This is a religious freedom issue–not a contraception issue.

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The Letter

CNS News reported yesterday that Representative Steve Scalise (R-La.) and 153 other House of Representative members sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking that she suspend a controversial rule that mandates that all insurance providers cover contraception for free.

This is the link to a copy of the letter with all the signatures,

The letter begins:

“As pro-life Members of Congress, we are writing to voice our strong opposition to your final decision on the rule for mandatory contraceptive, sterilization, and abortifacients coverage in the individual and group health insurance market,” the February 6 letter said.

The letter concludes:

In your response to this letter, we request that you provide us specific details on the process followed in the reading and evaluating of the public comments submitted. Additionally, in light of the concerns mentioned, we respectfully request that you suspend the final rule until you can ensure that both employers and individuals are afforded their constitutionally protected conscience rights.”

The problem with conscience rights should not be a surprise to anyone who followed the debate on Obamacare. The surprise is that this ruling came in a year when President Obama is running for re-election. I don’t know if he didn’t understand the uproar it would cause or if he planned to use the mandate to energize his liberal base. Either way, I think it is encouraging that 154 Representatives of both political parties signed the letter.

The article at CNS News concludes:

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan said that the mandate would force people of faith to violate their consciences and the teachings of their church, violating their First Amendment rights.

“Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience,” Dolan said in a video message released Jan. 23.

“This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”

Obamacare is an assault on both the U. S. Constitution and American people of faith. Hopefully it will be struck down by the Supreme Court later this year. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is not an elected official, and this mandate was not passed by Congress. I think it is time to look at who is currently writing the laws in America.

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No CLASS In Obamacare

Kathleen Sebelius

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line reported that the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, a part of Obamacare that played a major part in getting the bill through Congress, may never come into existence. The Class Act is described in the article as:

an optional, government-backed, long-term care insurance program that would pay a daily or monthly benefit to enrolled subscribers if they become unable to perform activities of daily living, such as dressing, meal preparation, and personal grooming. 

Because taxpayers had to pay into the program for five years before they were ‘vested,’ the money collected during that first five years was calculated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as $70 billion in deficit reduction.

The article reports:

Now, two years later, no one disputes that the Obama administration’s assurances about the viability of the CLASS Act were false. In fact, in February of this year, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before Congress that the program is “totally unsustainable” in its current form. So much for the $70 billion in “deficit reduction” that was an rationale for adoption of Obamacare!

It was all done with smoke and mirrors–let’s repeal the whole Obamacare thing!

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Has Washington Lost Its Mind ?

Kathleen Sebelius alternate HHS portrait

Image via Wikipedia

CNS News is reporting today that the Health and Human Services Department has announced that it plans to spend $700 million building, expanding, and improving community health centers across the U.S.

The funding will also expand the infrastructure for Obamacare.

The article reports:

“For many Americans, community health centers are the major source of care that ranges from prevention to treatment,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “These funds will expand our ability to provide high-quality care to millions of people while supporting good paying jobs in communities across the country.”

Most of the taxpayer money — $600 million – will be spent on existing health centers for longer-term projects including facility expansion and hiring more employees to serve more patients. The remainder, around $100 million, will be spent on shorter-term projects addressing “immediate facility needs.”

What part of “we’re broke” do these people not understand?

The article further reports:

The $700 million announced on Friday is just the beginning: Over the next five years, the Affordable Care Act provides $11 billion in funding for the operation, expansion and construction of community health centers across the country. 

In 2010, community health centers employed more than 131,000 staff, including 9,600 physicians, 6,400 nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, and certified nurse midwives, 11,400 nurses, 9,500 dental staff, 4,200 behavioral health staff, and more than 12,000 case managers and health education, outreach, and transportation staff.  The centers currently serve nearly 20 million patients regardless of their ability to pay.

It is a good thing to provide medical care to people who may not be able to afford it. I agree with the concept. I just wonder if there is not a much more economical way to do it. The $700 million announced today is truly spending we cannot currently afford. Let’s look at places we can cut in order to provide these services. I am sure we can find some.
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