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Archive for the ‘Saving Healthcare’ Category

It is always amusing when a Socialist objects to central control — a rare thing indeed.

And yet here is Bernie on the proposed Puerto Rico debt bailout bill currently up for a vote in Congress:

In a letter to Senate colleagues released Monday, Sanders rips the agreement to restructure the island’s $70 billion in debt…

In particular, Sanders takes issue with a new oversight board created under the legislation to oversee Puerto Rico’s finances because the majority of the seven-member panel…The board will have expansive power over Puerto Rico’s economy. <Politico.com, link>

And now for Bernie’s strong statement against central control:

In my view, we must never give an unelected control board the power to make life and death decisions for the people of Puerto Rico without any meaningful input from them at all.

That’s right, Bernie! Welcome to the side of liberty, where have you been?

It is refreshing to see a candidate for president vigorously opposing a powerful, unelected Board whose members are appointed by Washington officials (Democrats and Republicans each get Board seats that would control Puerto Rico).

But, Bernie, I ask you: did you oppose the IPAB inside of Obamacare?

Do you remember Barack Obama’s IPAB?

As I wrote in 2012, the Affordable Care Act includes something called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, a 15-member board that is appointed by the president. Its stated goal is to control Medicare spending. How will it do that? From Cato.org, my emphasis added:

When the unelected government officials on this board submit a legislative proposal to Congress, it automatically becomes law: PPACA requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to implement it. Blocking an IPAB “proposal” requires at a minimum that the Houseand the Senate and the president agree on a substitute. The Board’s edicts therefore can become law without congressional action, congressional approval, meaningful congressional oversight, or being subject to a presidential veto. Citizens will have no power to challenge IPAB’s edicts in court<Cato.org, link >

This is fascism (or socialism, if you prefer): a 15-member panel, unelected, makes decisions that automatically become law and control the amount of care Americans will receive.

IPAB’s unelected members will have effectively unfettered power to impose taxes and ration care for all Americans, whether the government pays their medical bills or not. In some circumstances, just one political party or even one individual would have full command of IPAB’s lawmaking powers. IPAB truly is independent, but in the worst sense of the word. It wields power independent of Congress, independent of the president, independent of the judiciary, and independent of the will of the people.

As of this writing, the IPAB remains a part of Obamacare. It’s still in there, though some Democrats have since come to their senses and urged for repeal of it (link).

So I ask you, Bern baby Bern, where do you stand on the draconian, Barack Obama IPAB?

IPAB-obamacare

 

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What a great piece today written by Marc Theissen in the Washington Post.

Here is the opening few paragraphs:

Historian David Maraniss notes, in Sunday’s Post, that President Obama came to office with the goal of changing “the trajectory of America” and leaving “a legacy as a president of consequence, the liberal counter to [Ronald] Reagan.” 

On the foreign-policy front, he is the anti-Reagan for certain. Reagan defeated Soviet communism and left us a safer world; Obama presided over the rise and metastasis of the Islamic State and left us a far more dangerous one. 

Domestically, Ronald Reagan told the American people: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’ ” Obama wanted to convince Americans that they were not terrifying. And the way he was going to do it was through the only great liberal legislative achievement of his presidency: Obamacare. 

He failed. Even before he leaves office, Obamacare has begun unraveling.

Read the rest here [link]

The Obamacare death star is one of history’s great examples of a massive government program that was sold by a messianic leader using lie after lie after lie and then, once implemented, revealed the truth of the most ugly predictions made about the program when it was wrangled through Congress.

Obamacare was never defensible, though many tried to argue it was, and is certainly not defensible now. Thought there are a few holdouts who still claim that the ACA is a “success” on this or that level, they are increasingly isolated and looking increasingly foolish as Obamacare co-ops continue to fail and disappear and large private insurers back out of exchanges.

It was always a ponzi scheme, and here we are.

Obamacare Hindenburg

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Many of us knew this from the beginning, but like the Bill Cosby rape accusations by various women, some issues take awhile to be accepted by the collective mind of society: Obamacare, aka the “Affordable Care Act”, is a terrible deal for Americans.

The following quote (by David R. Reines, 60, of Jefferson Township, N.J., a former hardware salesman with chronic knee pain) has become the reality now being experienced, and consciously understood, by many people <Boston Globe, link>:

The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor.  We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.

Yup, that’s about it.

The headline on this article?

Many say high deductibles make Affordable Care Act plans nearly useless.

Nice job, Barack Obama.

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From today’s news (thehill.com, link)

The Democratic Party is abandoning support for the “Cadillac tax” in the healthcare reform law, leaving President Obama as one of the last defenders of the policy.

The tax on “gold-plated” insurance plans was included in ObamaCare over the furious opposition of labor unions, who warned it would cause employers to abandon generous coverage in droves.

The tax is slated to take effect in 2018, but the movement against it is growing stronger, with Democratic leaders in Congress now joining all of the party’s leading presidential candidates in supporting repeal.

Obamacare Democrats abandon Obama

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Failed Obamacare co-ops have now reached 10 out of 23 that were formed by the Obama bureaucracy, and the failure rate is gaining momentum as government bureaucrats reap the harvest of their ill-conceived, Liberal / Progressive fantasies of creating insurance companies out of thin air and then capitalizing them with several billion dollars of tax-payer funded loans.

The losses so far, according to a bloomberg.com story today entitled, and this is not a joke: “Your Health Plan Will Now Self-Destruct“:

Total value of federal loans to co-ops that have failed: $1,072,174,773

Hey now, that’s a BILLION dollars down the drain.

Nice going, Barack Obama.

Can the public sector create and run businesses that involve complex customer service and actuarial data analysis?

Of course not — what a dumb question to even ask.

But mr. Obama and Democrats in the House and Senate passed the “Affordable Care Act” in 2010 and pinned their hopes on just such misguided promises.

But don’t take my word for it, take the words of Kevin Counihan, director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, which administers the co-ops and the Obamacare marketplaces.

The stark reality is that running an insurance company is a complicated, low-margin business. It requires a lot of experience. It requires a lot of good factors, and things can go south very quickly.

So simple, and yet as I write this many of my family and friends will still defend Obama’s government takeover of American health care.

It really makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Obama and Gruber destroy health care

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I have not posted an essay on Obamacare in awhile, but not because things have smoothed over with the program, leaving me short on ammunition.

Oh, not at all.

The (Un)Affordable Care Act continues to be a complete and total disaster of a shell game in which mr. Obama moves money around in fraudulent ways while making ordinary citizens chase unaffordable, ineffective coverage that ends up being canceled anyway.

And that’s before the law’s major provisions kick in, like the employer mandate, the Cadillac Tax and the IPAB (just wait until then, people).

But here is today’s headline that grabbed my attention:

Just in the last three weeks, five of the original 24 Obamacare co-ops announced plans to close, bringing the total of failures to nine barely two years after their launch with $2 billion in start-up capital from the taxpayers under the Affordable Care Act. <Daily Caller, link>

These latest revelations of failure of Obamacare all have the hallmarks of a statist, disastrous central government program:

#1: Throwing away Tax Payer money on poorly conceived, fraudulent ‘businesses’ in the healthcare ‘market’

What happened to that $2 billion in “start-up” capital from the taxpayers? Did it buy us a more competitive health care marketplace through “Obamacare co-ops”? Of course not:

More than $900 million of the original $2 billion in loans has been lost.

#2: Brutalize millions of American citizens by forcing them to buy health insurance and then canceling that insurance and forcing them to do it all over again

Among the co-ops to announce closings were those in Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee, Vermont, New York and Colorado. Nearly half a million failing co-op customers will have to find new coverage in 2016.

#3 Stonewall the Congressional branch of government to cover up misuse of funds and bureaucratic failures

Shouldn’t we the taxpayers enjoy holding the federal government accountable when it is spending BILLIONS on a program? We have our elected representatives in Congress, who are empowered to perform this function. Except they are dealing with a president who is openly contemptuous of our Constitution and its separation of powers, and sharing of powers.

CMS officials have stonewalled multiple congressional inquiries into the co-op financial problems. The latest congressional inquiry came in a September 30 letter to CMS acting administrator Andy Slavitt demanding transparency over the troubled program.

If you are Barack Hussein Obama, and you have lied repeatedly about your “signature policy achievement”, your only option is to stonewall, delay, and obscure the truth of what your law is doing.

Obamacare Hindenburg - Co-Ops Failing

But the tragedy known as Obamacare has always been out in the open for anyone with a rational mind to see. Those who found fault with the previous health care system in this country had plenty of evidence to suggest that fixes were needed and desired, but then when Obamacare got going in 2009, such people had to evaluate whether it offered real solutions to the then-current challenges.

—> This fork in the road was important for them: would they reject an obviously flawed central government charade that would destroy the middle class’s access to quality care, or would they embrace it blindly?

Liberal Fork in the Road on Obamacare

Nearly all the Liberals I know who faced this choice made the wrong choice, and now find themselves defending the indefensible, and it will get much worse in the coming years. Will they keep doubling down, or choose to jump off such a reckless ride and recover their rational minds?

Speaking of the Cadillac Tax, none other than Hillary Clinton has come out against it, a centerpiece of Obamacare, and Bernie Sanders has spoken forcefully about the need to repeal the Cadillac Tax while campaigning as a “Democratic Socialist”.

Oh, and Bernie did not just “wake up” to the nightmare known as the Cadillac Tax — he has been against it from the very beginning:

The Vermont senator has been a long-time foe of the Cadillac tax, which is also strongly opposed by union groups. He first introduced legislation to repeal the provision in 2009, when he said the plans affected by the tax “are more like Chevrolets” than Cadillacs. <TheHill.com, link>

That’s right, Bernie on the Left was able to use his common sense and see that the “Cadillac Tax” was going to destroy the middle class‘s access to quality health care and not just the health care of wealthy citizens whom Progressives love to hate and harm.

Democrats in Congress are waking up all over the place, in fact.

A few weeks ago, nine Democrat party Senators co-sponsored a bill to repeal the Cadillac Tax:

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and nine of his Senate colleagues introduced legislation today to improve the health law by repealing the so-called “Cadillac tax.” U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Bob Casey (D-PA) are cosponsors. <Hawaii Free Press, link>

If you are a Liberal and supported Obamacare, and even now still support it, you need to ask yourself if you are going to cling to a colossal mistake all the way to the bitter end.

Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, and a host of other legendary Liberals are abandoning you…what is it that keeps you in your bizarre and irrational mind-state?

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Barack Obama is celebratory once again in the wake of another Supreme Court vote in favor of his monstrosity known as Obamacare. In the wake of this victory for him and his socialist wrecking ball of a law, he uttered a now-familiar phrase: the Affordable Care Act is “here to stay“.

I find the phrase to be Orwellian not because it is more a wish of his than an actual fact, but because Barack Obama has unilaterally (and unconstitutionally) thwarted the full implementation of the law almost since its first passage; that is, Obamacare has yet to fully be here, in all its ugliness, and so it cannot be said to be here to stay.

Employer Mandate Delays

Principal among these delaying actions was Obama’s suspension of the so-called Employer Mandate, which he has done multiple times. Why has he done this again and again? Because the Employer Mandate forces American businesses with greater than 50 employees to offer government-approved health insurance or else pay substantial fines.

There are so many problems with this (and unintended consequences, including that companies with 49 or 50 employees plan to stop hiring) that I won’t mention them all here. Suffice it to say, federal bureaucrats expect the fines to generate $10 billion for Leviathan, all at the expense of private companies who employ the nation.

Will Americans agree that “Obamacare is working” once this mandate hits businesses and their employees?

Cadillac Tax: 2017 implementation

The real destruction to our nation’s health insurance system will come when the so-called Cadillac Tax kicks in in 2017. This provision in my opinion is one of the most sadistic and cruel legislative acts in our nation’s history, particularly considering the spiteful motivation behind it and its lack of any redeeming qualities.

The Cadillac Tax, designed by Jonathan Gruber and John Kerry on behalf of Barack Obama, will levy a 40% tax on the most lucrative, wonderful health insurance plans offered to workers by private employers. That’s right, Obamacare stands for the destruction of above-average health plans that have been available to tens of millions of Americans for years and years, and it is easy to see why mr. Obama elected to launch it in 2017, a year after he will have left office.

Will Americans agree that “Obamacare is working” once this cruel tax hits businesses and their employees?

Independent Payment Advisory Board: Obama has yet to nominate anyone…

The IPAB is to be a 15-member star chamber of central government bureaucrats who will have sole authority to beat down the Medicare system, taking decisions out of the hands of doctors and patients, and even elected representatives in Congress, all in the name of “controlling health care costs”.

The IPAB is so draconian and smacks so much of fascism that even Democrats want it removed from the Affordable Care Act (see Even Barney Frank Knows It’s Wrong and Hates it).

The ACA called for this group of high priests to start wielding power over our senior citizens beginning in 2011, and yet it has never been convened, and its members never named by Barack Obama.

…even after the Senate changed its rules to require only 51 votes to confirm presidential appointees, the President never nominated any IPAB members. <Commonwealthfund.org, link)

Why?

Because it is the same as all the other deadly provisions of Obamacare: so bad that if Americans actually experienced it, they would vote to have even more Republicans in Congress and perhaps one in the White House in order to take back control over their bodies and their lives. Barack Obama knows this, and so pursues a slow suffocation of all of us, claiming that “Obamacare is here to stay” and that “…it is working…”.

It is not working, and when it finally achieves full implementation, the extraordinary pain and suffering inherent in the law will descend upon nearly all 270 million Americans who were happy with their health care in the years prior to 2010.

But by then, Obama’s thinking goes, it will be too late to reverse it, and the forces of central power will be fully ensconced in their ivory tower, lording over our health and well-being like so many kings in the year 1150 AD, before the Magna Carta and long before representative government.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the federal government exempted itself from Obamacare?

Of course it did — this is how tyranny works.

Obama the archer

Here is a long list of Obama’s intentional, unilateral, slowing-down of the law’s provisions, excerpted from a helpful article at Galen Institute (link). If you have the patience to read through this long list, you will experience the full reality of how Barack Obama has deliberately prevented the truth of Obamacare’s consequences from being known.

Changes By Administrative Action

1.) Employee reporting: The IRS announced that, contrary to statutory language, it was delaying the ACA requirement that employers must report to their employees on their W-2 forms the full cost of their employer-provided health insurance. (March 29, 2011)

2.) Medicare Advantage patch: The administration ordered an advance draw on funds from a Medicare bonus program to provide payments to Medicare Advantage plans to temporarily forestall payment cuts called for in the ACA that could have led to cuts in benefits and an early exodus of MA plans from Medicare. (April 19, 2011)

3.)Tax credit subsidies for some people under 100% FPL and for unlawful immigrants: The ACA provides refundable tax credits to U.S. citizens with incomes between 100 and 400% of poverty, but IRS regulations give credits to citizens below 100% FPL in some cases. Also, Section 36B of the ACA grants credits to some non-citizens with low-incomes only if they are themselves lawfully present in the U.S. and cannot obtain Medicaid coverage. IRS regulations contradict the statute and allow subsidies if “the taxpayer or a member of the taxpayer’s family is lawfully present in the United States,” and “the lawfully present taxpayer or family member is not eligible for the Medicaid program.”  (August 17, 2011)

4.) Subsidies may flow through federal exchanges: The IRS issued a rule that allows premium assistance tax credits to be available in federal exchanges although the law specified that they only would be available through an “Exchange established by the State.” (May 23, 2012)

5.) Extension of credits to people receiving employer-sponsored coverage. Section 1511 of the ACA instructs the Labor Department to issue regulations requiring businesses with more than 200 employees to automatically enroll their employees in any health benefits plan offered by the employer. Section 36B correspondingly denies credits to employees covered by an employer plan. IRS regulations contradict the statutory language and allow credits to taxpayers when they are automatically enrolled in employer minimum essential coverage. Treasury implicitly acknowledges there is no statutory authority for its regulatory change. (May 23, 2012)

6.) Delaying a low-income plan: The administration delayed implementation of the Basic Health Program until 2015. It would have provided more-affordable health coverage for certain low-income individuals not eligible for Medicaid. (February 7, 2013)

7.) Closing the high-risk pool: The administration decided to prematurely halt enrollment in transitional federal high-risk pools created by the law, blocking coverage for an estimated 40,000 new applicants, citing a lack of funds. The administration had money from a fund under HHS Secretary Sebelius’s control to extend the pools, but instead used the money to pay for advertising for Obamacare enrollment and other purposes. (February 15, 2013)

8.) Doubling allowed deductibles: Because some group health plans use more than one benefits administrator, plans were allowed to apply separate patient cost-sharing limits to different services, such as doctor/hospital and prescription drugs, allowing maximum out-of-pocket costs to be twice as high as the law intended. (February 20, 2013)

9.) Small businesses on hold: The administration said federal exchanges for small businesses will not be ready by the 2014 statutory deadline, and instead delayed until 2015 the provision of SHOP (Small-Employer Health Option Program) that requires exchanges to offer a choice of qualified health plans. (March 11, 2013)

10.) Employer-mandate delay: By an administrative action that is contrary to language of the ACA, enforcement and reporting requirements for the employer mandate were delayed by one year until 2015. (July 2, 2013)

11.) Self-attestation: Because of the difficulty of verifying income after the employer-reporting requirement was delayed, the administration it would allow “self-attestation” of income and eligibility by applicants for health insurance in the exchanges. (July 15, 2013)

12.) Congressional opt-out: The administration decided to offer employer contributions to Members of Congress and their staffs when they purchase insurance on the exchanges created by the ACA, a subsidy the law doesn’t provide. (September 30, 2013)

13.) Delaying the individual mandate: The administration changed the deadline for the individual mandate by declaring that customers who purchased health insurance by March 31, 2014, would avoid the tax penalty. The law says they would have had to purchase a plan by mid-February to avoid penalties. (October 23, 2013)

14.) Insurance companies may offer canceled plans: The administration announced that insurance companies may reoffer plans that previous regulations had forced them to cancel. (November 14, 2013)

15.) Delaying the online SHOP exchange: The administration first delayed for a month and later for a year until November 2014 the launch of the online insurance marketplace for small businesses that originally was scheduled to launch on October 1, 2013. (September 26, 2013) (November 27, 2013)

16.) Exempting unions from reinsurance fee: The administration gave unions an exemption from the reinsurance fee. To make up for this exemption, non-exempt plans will have to pay a higher fee, which will likely be passed onto consumers in the form of higher premiums and deductibles. (December 2, 2013)

17.) Extending Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan: The administration extended the federal high risk pool until January 31, 2014 and again until March 15, 2014 to prevent a coverage gap for the most vulnerable. The plans were scheduled to expire on December 31, but were extended because it has been impossible for some to sign up for new coverage on healthcare.gov. (December 12, 2013) (January 14, 2014)

18.) Expanding hardship waiver to those with canceled plans: The administration expanded the hardship waiver – which exempts people from the individual mandate and allows some to purchase catastrophic health insurance – to people who have had their plans canceled because of ObamaCare regulations. The administration later extendedthis waiver until October 1, 2016. (December 19, 2013) (March 5, 2014)

19.) Bay State bailout: More than 300,000 people in Massachusetts gained temporary Medicaid coverage in 2014 without verification of eligibility, with the Obama and Patrick administrations using a taxpayer-funded bailout to mask the failure of the commonwealth’s disastrously malfunctioning website. (January 2014)

20.) Equal employer coverage delayed: Tax officials will not be enforcing in 2014 the mandate requiring employers to offer equal coverage to all their employees. This provision of the law was supposed to go into effect in 2010, but IRS officials have “yet to issue regulations for employers to follow.” (January 18, 2013)

21.) Employer-mandate delayed again: The administration delayed for an additional year provisions of the employer mandate, postponing enforcement of the requirement for medium-size employers until 2016 and relaxing some requirements for larger employers. Businesses with 100 or more employees must offer coverage to 70% of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95% in 2016 and beyond. (February 10, 2014)

22.) Extending subsidies to non-exchange plans: The administration released a bulletin through CMS extending subsidies to individuals who purchased health insurance plans outside of the federal or state exchanges. The bulletin also requires retroactive coverage and subsidies for individuals from the date they applied on the marketplace rather than the date they actually enrolled in a plan. (February 27, 2014)

23.) Non-compliant health plans get two year extension: The administration pushedforward by two years the deadline requiring health insurers to cancel plans that are not compliant with ACA mandates. These “illegal” plans can be offered until 2017. This extension prevented a wave of cancellation notices from going out before the 2014 midterm elections. (March 5, 2014)

24.) Reducing cost sharing reductions. The ACA calls for out-of-pocket maximums to be lowered for enrollees with incomes between 100-400% FPL (Sec. 1402), but the provision proved unworkable for those 250-400% of FPL in combination with prescribed actuarial value requirements. The law was changed through regulation to apply to only those 100-250% of poverty. (March 11, 2014)

25.) Delaying the sign–up deadline: The administration delayed until mid-April the March 31 deadline to sign up for insurance without penalty. Applicants simply need to check a box on their application to qualify for this extended sign-up period. (March 26, 2014)

26.) Canceling Medicare Advantage cuts: The administration canceled further scheduled cuts to Medicare Advantage. The ACA calls for $200 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage over 10 years. (April 7, 2014)

27.) More Funds for Insurer Bailout: The administration said it will supplement risk corridor payments to health insurance plans with “other sources of funding” if the higher risk profile of enrollees means the plans would lose money. (May 16, 2014)

28.) Exempting U.S. territories: Despite earlier administration claims that “HHS is not authorized to choose which provisions [of the ACA] might apply to the territories,” HHS waived six major requirements – such as guaranteed issue, community rating, and essential benefit mandates – that were causing serious disruption to health insurance markets covering 4.5 million residents of U.S. territories. (July 18, 2014)

29.) Failure to enforce abortion restrictions. A GAO report found that many exchange insurance plans don’t separate charges for abortion services as required by the ACA, showing the administration is not enforcing the law. In 2014, abortions were being financed with taxpayer funds in more than 1,000 exchange plans. (Sept. 16, 2014)

30.) Risk Corridor coverage: The Obama administration plans to illegally distribute risk corridor payments to insurers, despite studies by both the Congressional Research Service and the GAO saying a congressional appropriation is required before federal agencies can make the payments. (Sept. 30, 2014)

31.) Transparency of coverage: CMS delays statutory requirements on insurance companies to disclose data on the number of people enrolled, disenrollment, number of claims denied, costs to consumers of certain services, etc. (Oct. 20, 2014)

32.) Tax penalty pass: Taxpayers who filed returns based upon inaccurate subsidy data they received from the federal government will not have to repay the government if they received too large of a subsidy, the IRS ruled. (February 24, 2015)

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