Roll Tide

One might be forgiven for thinking health insurers are cracking under the strain of Obamacare’s broken insurance exchanges. But don’t be fooled: it is the 10 million Obamacare enrollees who are in trouble, not the insurers.

To be sure, new nonprofit cooperative insurers, set up with special subsidies to compete in the exchanges, have had a terrible run. They deliberately underpriced their premiums to gain market share, expecting the federal government to bail out their losses. Once the Republicans took over the House of Representatives, then the Senate, this became unlikely. As a result, the administration announced in November that 12 of 23 nonprofit cooperative insurers were shutting down.

However, these nonprofit cooperative insurers, which did not exist before Obamacare, are not important overall. That is why UnitedHealth Group’s November 19 announcement that it is losing $500 million on the Obamacare exchanges and might withdraw from Obamacare in 2017 is a big deal. Just a few weeks earlier, UnitedHealth Group had announced it would expand into 11 new states’ Obamacare markets.

The insurer is also dialing back advertising and brokers’ commissions for 2016, even though it is too late to withdraw from the market literally. (We are in the middle of Obamacare’s third open season.) However, it is the threat of absolute withdrawal in 2017 that has shocked many. By 2017, the fourth year of Obamacare, the market is supposed to have shaken out. Both insurers and Obamacare’s political sponsors understood that insurers would not know how expensive claims would be from those who signed up during the first three years. That is why insurers were given temporary taxpayer subsidies, called reinsurance and risk corridors, for 2014 through 2016. Reinsurance is a direct handout of $25 billion from taxpayers to insurers. Risk corridors were more complicated and supposed to be budget-neutral. Insurers that made more money than expected would pay money to those that lost more money than expected.

 

When it became clear that the losers far outnumbered the winners, the administration tried to raid the kitty to make risk-corridor payments from the general fund. By this time a new Congress (in which the majority opposed Obamacare) actually read the bill that its predecessor had passed in 2010 and pointed out that the administration could not pay out that money. As a result, Obamacare insurers will only receive $362 million of $2.9 billion of risk-corridor payments requested.

However, even if Congress did cave in and pay the risk corridors in full, payments would finish in 2016. That is what makes UnitedHealth Group’s announcement about dropping out in 2017 so important: it is effectively an admission that three years are not enough to learn how to manage risks in Obamacare’s exchanges. Indeed, it suggests that risks are unmanageable, that the vicious circle of increasing premiums’ driving healthy subscribers away and leaving only sick ones on the books cannot be stopped under Obamacare.

The exchanges have fewer victims than initially expected. The economy has been strong enough that employer-based coverage has stood up to Obamacare. As a result, only 10 million people are caught in them, instead of the 21 million forecast when the law was passed. However, this is a mixed blessing. These 10 million are a politically weak constituency of working-class and lower middle-class citizens in middle age — the people whose needs politicians always talk about but seldom address because they are not politically active.

The only group politically powerful enough to renegotiate the exchanges are the insurers, and they show no more creativity than to lobby for their subsidies to be restored, which this Congress has promised not to do. On the other hand, simply quitting the exchanges is not very painful for large health insurers. UnitedHealth Group’s stock took a small hit when it admitted its struggles, but Obamacare exchanges are a tiny share of its business. As more insurers make the same decision to quit, 10 million Obamacare subscribers will be left high and dry in short order. (DC)

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez
Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell
Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert
Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

If you Like your Job…

ObamaCare

Please enjoy the latest installment of the “it’s working” chronicles. Sorry, American workers (via The Hill):

ObamaCare will force a reduction in American work hours the equivalent of 2 million jobs over the next decade, Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper said Monday. The total workforce will shrink by just under 1 percent as a result of changes in worker participation because of the new coverage expansions, mandates and changes in tax rates, according to a 22-page report released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). “Some people would choose to work fewer hours; others would leave the labor force entirely or remain unemployed for longer than they otherwise would,” the agency said in its latest analysis of the now five-year-old law.

This assessment largely confirms the bombshell February 2014 analysis from the nonpartisan entity, which also projected that Democrats’ $2 trillion healthcare scheme would slow economic growth and slow job creation.  Take it away, 2011 Nancy Pelosi:

“Four million jobs will be created by the legislation when it is fully in effect.”

In 2010, she said Obamacare would create 400,000 new jobs “almost immediately.”  Last year, the law’s defenders were reduced to arguing that the reduction in worker hours was a positive development, offering Americans more time to spend with their families, and freeing them from “job lock.”  CBO’s findings determined that Obamacare disincentivizes work, shifting the burden of subsidizing health coverage for people who choose to work less or leave the workforce altogether onto the backs of middle class taxpayers.  Democrats’ frantic “liberation from job lock” spin worked out…about as well as one might have expected.  Obamacare’s cheerleaders have been wrong about virtually everything: Their law was not a job creator.  Their law has not bent the national health spending “cost curve” down.  Their law has not even approached lowering rates across the board.  Their law has not made healthcare more affordable.  Their law has not secured access to care.  Their law has not reduced emergency room visits, or decreased uncompensated care. Their law did not guarantee that satisfied consumers could keep their preferred doctors and plans. And their law has not attracted nearly as many enrollees as they expected, largely due to lack of affordability.  Their law has not signed up as many young and healthy consumer as they’d anticipated, raising new fears of an adverse selection spiral.

Gee, How many times have I said that very thing? 🙂

And their law has not become popular post-implementation.  Meanwhile, the string of high-profile failures among Obamacare co-ops is inflicting more chaos onto an already-strained system:

Health care providers could get stuck with unpaid bills in a half dozen states where co-op plans have collapsed. That’s because there’s no financial backstop in those states if the failed nonprofit startups backed by Obamacare loans run out of money before paying off all of their medical claims. That messy scenario is already playing out in New York, where the state’s co-op shut down at the end of November after its financial situation proved direr than originally known. The Greater New York Hospital Association estimates the co-op, Health Republic Insurance of New York, owes its members at least $165 million. And the Medical Society of the State of New York found that of more than 900 doctors surveyed, 64 percent reported being owed money by the co-op plan. For most insurers, a state’s guaranty fund – bankrolled by the industry – will cover unpaid medical claims if they become insolvent. But in some states, like New York, that fund doesn’t support plans that are licensed as health maintenance organizations, which is typically how the co-ops were set up. The other five states where providers could end up with unpaid bills if the failed co-ops run out of money: Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, Oregon and Utah…Just over half of the 23 co-ops seeded with $2.4 billion in loans have collapsed, with most set to cease operations at the end of this year. That’s left roughly 600,000 individuals scrambling to find new coverage.

On Capitol Hill this week, Republican lawmakers are demanding answers about how the government spent hundreds of millions of dollars on state-level Obamacare exchanges that ultimately collapsed, and have since been abandoned.  Here’s Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) grilling acting CMS administrator Andy Slavitt about whether or not he agrees with the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) recently-announced verdict that zero of the remaining state-level exchanges are “fully operational,” after five years and $1.45 billion in IT spending, courtesy of taxpayers:

Senate Republicans used a budget maneuver called reconciliation to vote to repeal vast swaths of Obamacare last week, approving a bill that would gut the law.  Once it passes the House, President Obama is expected to veto the legislation in order to protect his unpopular, harmful law. Hillary Clinton, who invented Obamacare, asserted last week that the law is working.

And The Ministry of Truth assures us that it’s all just a plot by dissidents and Thought Criminals and that they just want poor people to die. 🙂

THE AGENDA IS THE AGENDA. They fight for it to very last drop of YOUR blood. 🙂

 

Bend Over, Here Comes ObamaClaus

KING Barack Hussein Obama…

And he’s going to make it with your taxes. So the tax that’s a penalty that actually a tax is now going to raise your taxes to pay for the penalty that is a tax. Got it.

Obamacare is killing the heath insurance industry, but help for health insurers is on the way – and it will be coming out the pockets of American taxpayers via higher insurance rates and a federal bailout.

When the government says, “Explore other sources of funding” and “working with Congress on the necessary funding,” it’s time to hide your wallet and get ready to study a few more pages of tax code.

As MRCTV reported Thursday, United Healthcare lost $425 million on its policies sold via the Obamacare exchanges, and they might back out of the exchanges all together after 2016. And United Healthcare isn’t alone. U.S. insurers had to absorb nearly $2.9 billion in unexpected medical expenses from their customers in Obamacare’s exchanges in 2014, according to new data from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reports that some of the deficit will be made up with higher premiums, much higher premiums.

And Obama and Company will blame it on “corporate greed” not a fatally flawed partial socialized medicine designed to fail.

Many insurers have requested premium increases of 20% to 40% for next year. In August, Blue Cross Blue Shield secured approval in Tennessee for a 36.3% price hike, while Oregon OK’d a 25.6% increase for Moda Health Plan.

Even these premium increases are mild compared with what’s coming when the risk corridor provision and other stopgaps expire.

A recent University of Minnesota study found that after 2016, the cheapest plans would experience some of the most dramatic premium increases. Families who purchased “bronze” plans on the exchanges could see 45% increases. Some unlucky individuals could see their premiums shoot up 96%.

“Our data still indicate that — for at least the next decade — premiums will increase faster than they did in the years before the Affordable Care Act’s implementation,” cautioned one of the study’s authors. “Federal subsidies for ACA plans won’t be able to keep up.”

But, the federal government is going to try make the subsidies keep up. Pres. Obama’s Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) is promising insurance companies that taxpayers will help them out.

After the United Healthcare announcement on Thursday, HHS issued a letter to insurance companies recognizing the 2014 shortfalls and declaring that the U.S. Government needs to make good:

 In the event of a shortfall for the 2016 program year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will explore other sources of funding for risk corridors payments, subject to the availability of appropriations. This includes working with Congress on the necessary funding for outstanding risk corridors payments

Risk corridors were created by the Obamacare bill.  The corridors are meant to redistribute money (sound familiar?) from insurance companies who make a bigger profit from exchange plans than expected and give to companies who lost money on the exchange plans.

Yeah, it’s called redistribution. Socialism…

The problem with the risk corridor in 2014 was that too many companies lost money – so, there wasn’t enough money to cover everyone’s losses.  HHS is promising a bailout, or in HHS language, it will work with Congress to get more money for the risk corridors in order to cut insurance companies losses. 

Robert Laszewski, president of consultancy Health Policy and Strategy Associates in Virginia, told CNBC:

“‘The Obamacare business model doesn’t work,’ ‘Obamacare has got to be retooled.’ Laszewski cited the fact that insurers overall still are losing money selling exchange plans in the second year of Obamacare, and that as a result many of them are raising prices, which could in turn lead to current and prospective customers taking a pass on further coverage.” 

According to Nathan Nascimento, Senior Policy Advisor for Freedom Partners:

“We already knew that this Administration has no problem with putting special interests ahead of Americans’ health care – but yet another bailout for insurance companies on the backs of taxpayers only throws more good money after bad. Washington’s flawed one-size-fits-all approach to health care has failed, leading to plan cancelations, skyrocketing premium and out-of-pocket costs, and instability for American families and business. The solution is to get government out of the way – not dig the hole even deeper.”

Supporters of Obamacare are in denial. Much higher heath insurance premiums, insurance company losses needing a federal bailout, and news that almost half of the state-run Obamacare exchanges  have bitten the dust, add up to one inconvenient fact: Obamacare is a failure.  

Was never meant to be anything else.

But the supporters have no choice but to be in denial. They have wanted Socialized Medicine for 100 years and it’s failing so they have hide that from everyone, including themselves.

Sadly, it won’t be the politicians who forced the program down the American people’s throats who will be reaching into their pockets to pay for that failure.  It will be the rest of us, average American families, our children, and our grandchildren paying for this unmitigated disaster. 

Get ready to dig deep for failure. Also, get ready for the spin that will not make it the Liberals fault.

After all, they are always right and always have the best of intentions.

Welcome to the Road to Hell. 🙂

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez
Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

 

 

United We Fall

A “Healthcare Workers for Obamacare” sign hangs torn in a parking lot in New York on Oct. 31, 2012.  AP

President Obama repeatedly promised that his signature health law, the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, would reduce insurance premiums by $2,500 for the typical family.

ObamaCare: United Healthcare’s surprise warning that it may scrap participation in federal health care exchanges is more than bad news for consumer choice. It’s a broader sign of an unsustainable system.

The nation’s largest health insurance provider surprised the markets Thursday by saying losses from its 550,000 individual ObamaCare exchange enrollments were sharply cutting its bottom line. That’s notable because ObamaCare exchange participation only forms a small slice of the $105 billion company by market capitalization.

Yet it was enough to make the giant company and all the value it creates throughout its many operations suffer enough to trigger, as IBD market reporter Jed Graham wrote, “a surge of red ink.”

The company forecast $425 million less revenue in the fourth quarter and cut its full-year 2015 earnings-per-share forecast to $6 from $6.25-$6.35.

Not surprisingly, its stock fell 5.6% by the close of trading Thursday, and other health care and hospital companies such as Aetna, Anthem, Tenet, Cigna, Humana and HCA took similar hits.

“We see no data pointing to improvement,” UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Helmsley said on a conference call. Patients, he explained, were using their plans more than the company had anticipated and, worse still, were dropping coverage when they got well.

Bad as that is for company profits, it’s a predictable outcome given the structure of the law and what it permits.

What Helmsley described was a company caught up in the classic “death spiral” that IBD and reputable economists have been warning about: Insurance policy sales going in the main to the sickest patients who use the most health care services, while the high prices of the larded-up government-mandated packages continue to drive off younger, healthier consumers.

DOH!  It’s not like it was predictable or anything… 🙂

In short, the ObamaCare master plan of having young and healthy consumers subsidize the oldest, sickest patients isn’t working as the White House’s central planners and self-proclaimed experts claimed.

<<chuckle>>

Not that the ideologically rigid Obama and The Democrats will care. They will continue to hammer on it until you give in to government control of who lives and who dies and the Insurance companies go bankrupt leaving only the government left.

That’s Democrat “compassion” for ya… 🙂

What’s striking here is that UnitedHealth is no tiny startup ship with a narrow margin of error riding the big ObamaCare regulatory waves. It’s the biggest of the big, a conglomerate that’s the product of the consolidation of the industry — Anthem and Cigna, UnitedHealth and HCA, HCA and private investors — that was supposed to enable the sector to absorb the blow of higher costs of insuring more customers and still continue to do well.

That’s not happening.

What’s more, UnitedHealth was in the ObamaCare exchanges for only a year, during a window of time when the government was supposed to cushion insurers against losses in the ObamaCare transition. The cushion ends next year, leaving companies on their own.

(Insert “Jaws” theme music here) 🙂

Will smaller health care companies really be able to make a profit in an atmosphere that even UnitedHealth found impossible to sustain a profit in? There’s plenty of reason to wonder, as the markets did Thursday. (IBD)

“We cannot sustain these losses,” CEO Stephen Hemsley said in an investor call Thursday morning. “We can’t really subsidize a marketplace that doesn’t appear at the moment to be sustaining itself.”

Several nonprofit insurance cooperatives that were supposed to compete for customers on the exchanges have folded. Meanwhile, some big publicly traded insurance companies, including Anthem, Aetna, Cigna and Humana, say they are enrolling fewer people than expected or even losing money.

A recent report by McKinsey & Co. found that the industry lost a total of $2.5 billion, or $163 per customer, in the individual market.

Insurance companies have had trouble attracting healthy customers to the exchanges to purchase their insurance products, many of which have deductibles of thousands of dollars.

The industry’s troubles are reflected in the insurance products being offered on the exchanges during the current enrollment period, reports The Wall Street Journal:

“For these plans, which will take effect in 2016, many insurers have raised premiums in order to cover the medical costs of enrollees, which have run higher than many companies originally projected, fueling this year’s losses. Insurers have also shifted to offering more limited choices of health-care providers”

Still, no other big insurer has signaled its intention to leave the exchanges. (NPR)

YET. But it will come. But don’t worry Obama and The Democrats are from the Government and they are here to help you! 🙂

The average premium for medium-benefit plans offered to 40-year-old non-smokers will rise 10.1% in 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

 Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

 

 

Death Spiral

The Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell, the case challenging the Obama administration’s decision to award tax credits for health insurance sold through federally established exchanges, could turn on the question of whether a ruling that ends the tax credits on federal exchanges might cause something known as a “death spiral” in health insurance markets.

The good news is the answer is probably no, but the bad news is that’s only because the death spiral has probably already started.

A death spiral generally occurs when insurers are forced to raise premiums sharply to pay promised benefits. Higher premiums cause many of the healthiest policyholders, who already pay far more in premiums than they receive in benefits, to drop coverage.

When healthy policyholders drop coverage, it leaves the insurer with little choice but to raise premiums again because they now have a risk pool that is less healthy than before. But another premium increase means many of the healthy people who remained now drop their policies, too, and this continues until the only people willing to pay the now-very-high premiums are those with serious medical conditions.

The death spiral isn’t just a theory. Eight states learned this the hard way in the 1990s when they enacted two policies known as “community rating” and “guaranteed issue,” requiring health insurers to sell coverage to anyone who wanted it at the same price.

This quickly set off a death spiral because people knew they could wait until they were sick or injured to buy insurance, and premiums rose sky-high as healthy people exited the individual insurance market while the sick remained.

 

New Jersey enacted both community rating and guaranteed issue in 1992. By 2003, the lowest monthly premium for a family policy in the state was $3,810 and nearly 40 percent of the people in the individual market had dropped their coverage.

Obamacare includes both community rating and guaranteed issue. The hope of the politicians who passed Obamacare was the individual mandate would keep the relatively healthy from dropping insurance coverage, thereby avoiding a death spiral.

They hoped to FORCE people to pay by government cudgel to avoid the inevitable. Remove the choice to cause the death spiral and subsidize the hell out of it (literally and figuratively). Sounds like an Agenda rather a “good” thing, doesn’t it? 🙂

During oral arguments in King, Justices Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed concerns that not allowing subsidies in the 37 states using the federally established exchange would set off a death spiral in those states. Their fear was that while subsidies would no longer be available, and there would effectively be no individual mandate, community rating and guaranteed issue would remain.

Many commentators saw Justice Kennedy’s comments as a signal he isn’t willing to stop subsidies on federal exchanges, either because of the serious consequences of doing so or because surely Congress could not have intended to put states in the position of choosing between creating an Obamacare exchange or seeing health insurance markets destroyed.

What Justice Kennedy and many others may not understand, however, is the death spiral is probably already underway in all 50 states, regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in this case.

According to the Manhattan Institute, premiums climbed by 41 percent on average from 2013 to 2014, and premiums are likely to rise sharply again after two insurance company bailout programs included in Obamacare expire in 2017.

The other sign health insurance markets are in the early stages of a death spiral is the age mix of those buying policies through Obamacare. Originally it was estimated that around 40 percent of enrollees had to be in the relatively healthy 18 to 34-year-old age segment, so their premiums could be used to pay for the health expenses of older, less-healthy enrollees. So far it appears only some 28 percent of enrollees are in that coveted age group, which also comprises around half of the uninsured.

All of this means insurers are getting a risk pool that is less healthy than expected, and more premium hikes are around the corner. While subsidies hide some from the full impact, others in the middle class will not be shielded.

It will undoubtedly take a few years to know for sure, but for anybody concerned about setting off a death spiral or thinking Congress surely didn’t intend to do so, don’t worry. It looks like it’s already here, whether Congress intended it or not.

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok
Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson
But enough about President Obama.
Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler

The Time is Coming

People without insurance are running out of time to avoid the hefty ObamaCare penalties that the IRS will be handing down in 2016.

Watchchya wanna bet that gets “delayed” again because of politics. 🙂

Consumers face a Feb. 15, 2015, deadline to buy insurance, after which those without coverage could be hit with fines of $325 per adult or 2 percent of family income, whichever is higher.

Uninsured people looking to escape the penalties are turning to the exchanges before they close, while insurance companies and tax preparers are seizing on the looming tax hit as a business opportunity.

One recent mass mailer from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield obtained by The Hill warned potential customers in the Washington, D.C., region that going without health insurance coverage would come with a steep cost.

“When you don’t have health insurance … you put your financial security at risk,” the mailer states. “That’s because under the new Affordable Care Act legislation, millions of Americans will have to pay an increased penalty tax of at least 2 percent of their income in 2015 if they go uninsured.”

The “good news,” the letter said, is that CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield has “solutions” to help people avoid the penalty, including coverage that is “compatible with financial assistance or free money from the government that will help qualifying individuals pay for insurance.”

The company declined to comment on the mailer.

The message is part of a shift in focus for the health insurance industry as ObamaCare continues a relatively smooth second year of enrollment.

Last fall, issuers were hesitant to mention the mandate as technical glitches plagued HealthCare.gov and stopped some consumers from enrolling.

The penalties for going without health insurance were also more modest, with uninsured people due to pay $95 per adult or 1 percent of family income this tax season. Under the second-year enrollment rules, families that forgo insurance could end up owing $1,000 or more.

Tax preparation companies are touting their expertise in handling the IRS’s ObamaCare rules as they gear up for a new filing season.

Part of the pitch is helping consumers avoid the mandate through an exemption if they are eligible. 

A variety of hardship qualifications makes this route possible for many people, including those who experienced the death of a close relative, had their previous health plan canceled or saw an increase in necessary expenses due to caring for an aging family member.

“There are a lot of people who will qualify for an exemption,” said Avalere Health CEO Dan Mendelson. “If a company can save someone the 2 percent fine on $50,000 of income, that is significant.”

Firms are also offering to help current enrollees understand how changes in income can affect their tax credits to buy coverage. In some cases, they can also help the uninsured select health plans.

In promotional materials, H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service say they can provide consumers relief, arguing that healthcare reform is making tax planning more difficult.

“The ACA [Affordable Care Act] has changed the landscape of both healthcare and tax,” H&R Block states online, inviting consumers to calculate their mandate penalty or receive a “tax impact analysis” when they become a client.

Jackson Hewitt urges consumers to stop by one of its locations, promising that their employees “work harder to keep up with the latest tax law changes to protect you from possible penalties — not everyone else does.”

The marketing around the healthcare law is taking flight at a time when surveys show the public remains deeply confused about the mandate.

Almost half of U.S. adults are unaware they must report their health insurance status on their 2014 tax returns, according to a TurboTax survey released earlier this month.

And while about three in five uninsured people know the law penalizes people without coverage, nearly 90 percent do not realize the 2014 deadline has already passed.

As a result, experts are urging insurers and the federal government to do more to emphasize the mandate this enrollment period.

Mendelson said the insurance industry is talking about the penalties more than last year, though the Obama administration has not yet adopted that approach.

“You have to remember that most people will sign up for this benefit in the very last weeks before they have to, so you wouldn’t want to message negatively until the end,” he said. “They have a choice about whether to motivate by fear or by benefit. I think the fear might come late.”

Anne Filipic, president of the campaign-style group Enroll America, said the mandate is coming up more frequently this year.

“We will always lead our conversations with the great benefits that are available to consumers,” Filipic said in a joint interview with The Hill and The Wall Street Journal last month.

“As for the fine, that is something that we will communicate to consumers about as well. It’s about delivering the facts.” (The Hill)

The fact is you’re screwed. The Government gets to decide if you live or die, and how you live. Welcome to Hell.

Sen. Tom Harkin, who co-authored the law and is retiring at the end of this Congress, said, “We had the power to do it in a way that would have simplified healthcare, made it more efficient and made it less costly, and we didn’t do it, So I look back and say we should have either done it the correct way or not done anything at all.

But that would have ignored 90 years of itch-scratching hell-for-leather ends justifies the means Holy Grail of Liberalism and that was an itch they had to scratch at any cost, especially to the American People. Hindsight maybe 20/20 but political hindsight is usually very myopic.

“What we did is we muddled through and we got a system that is complex, convoluted, needs probably some corrections and still rewards the insurance companies extensively,” he added.

And it was all Democrats and they paid a price for it.

But it’s still here and Jar Jar Boehner and The RINOs were the universe’s gift to Liberals and the scourge of the American people.

With businesses’ one-year reprieve from financial penalties under ObamaCare ending, the horror stories of complying with the costly health care law already are trickling in. The worst is yet to come.

ObamaCare Hits Small Business Hard in ’15

Starting Jan. 1, employers with 100 or more full-time workers face hefty increases in their health insurance costs as they comply for the first time with the mandate.

They must now offer the government’s comprehensive coverage — including “free” preventive care — for all employees working 30 or more hours a week, or risk being fined $2,000 per employee per year.

But many of these small businesses are retailers that don’t have the kind of margins where they can cover workers and still stay in business.

Many grocers and restaurants have opted to pay the fine rather than swallow the larger cost of buying coverage for all workers. Others are cutting back worker hours to duck the law altogether.

Universal health care is hardly “free,” and its costs hit both employees and customers hard. Service companies — including even garbage collectors — are passing on the added cost to customers in the form of higher bills.

Take God Bless the USA, a trash collection company outside Charlotte, N.C. It recently notified customers that it’s raising prices 5% to help cover expenses.

“Due to the Affordable Care Act, effective Jan. 1, 2015, we are obligated to provide health care coverage to all of our employees,” it explained in a Dec. 5 letter. “Unfortunately, we are unable to internalize this cost and are sorry we have to pass this cost on to you.”

Requirements under ObamaCare tighten in 2016, when smaller firms employing 50 to 99 full-time workers also have to offer coverage or face fines.

A few small businesses in Michigan that did offer employee-sponsored health coverage are now preparing to stop next year, says Michigan Group Benefits, an East Lansing-based insurance agency.

Why? Sticker shock from the pricier ACA-compliant policies, which provide everything from “free” mammograms to colonoscopies.

Blue Cross Blue Shield and other insurers have stopped allowing businesses to renew policies that aren’t compliant with ObamaCare. In their place, they’re offering plans with 14% to 45% rate increases, the National Association of Health Underwriters says.

Though employers with fewer than 50 workers are exempt from mandates, they too are feeling ObamaCare’s pain.

Kaiser Permanente already has sent cancellation letters to such employers, explaining that their existing plans don’t offer ObamaCare’s richer benefits and therefore are no longer available.

Some two-thirds of the 31 million employees who work for such firms and get health insurance from them could receive similar cancellation notices over the next year.

When the president signed ObamaCare in 2010, he promised it would “lower costs for families and for businesses.” As it turns out, neither is true. (IBD)

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

 

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

 

 

Hoist By Their Own Petard

More ObamaCare mess.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a federal regulations that implemented subsidies that are vital to President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, in direct conflict with another ruling on the issue handed down earlier on Tuesday.

A three-judge panel unanimously said the law was ambiguous, and that it would defer to the IRS’s determination that subsidies could go to individuals who purchased health insurance on both federal and state-run exchanges.

The second court was obviously more liberal agenda driven since the Law does state the Feds are excluded from the exchanges. This was a political attempt, that partially failed, to get Republican Governors to cave-in and they didn’t. Now the Agenda has a new problem.

The ACA (ObamaCare) say the subsidies shall be available to persons who purchase health insurance in an exchange “established by the state.” But 34 states have chosen not to establish exchanges.

Nothing a few Agenda-driven judges can’t confuse! 🙂

A separate panel from a federal appeals court in Washington on Tuesday morning said the IRS could not offer premium tax credits to people who purchase insurance through the federal insurance marketplace that serves most of the 8 million consumers who have signed up for private coverage for 2014.

Analysts estimate that as many as 5 million people could be affected if subsidies disappear from the federal marketplace, which serves 36 states through the website HealthCare.gov.

The subsidies are available to people with annual incomes of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $94,200 for a family of four.

The subsidies were the bribes to get people in the door of ObamaCare in the first place, as well as the cudgel against Republicans.

Did anyone mention cost? 🙂

Democrats in Congress passed a law that explicitly limited Obamacare subsidy eligibility to consumers who purchased plans on state-level exchanges. They did so in order to coerce and bribe states into setting up their own marketplaces under the law. (Another attempt at coercion, mandatory Medicaid expansion, has been struck down 7-2 by the Supreme Court). Given the controversial law’s unpopularity, a majority of states declined to establish exchanges, forcing the federal government to create the infamous federal version — with Healthcare.gov as its centerpiece. Subsequent New York Times reporting indicated that HHS never expected to have to set up any exchange at all, let alone for 36 states. That’s because they were laboring under the belief that the law’s sticks and carrots would compel every state to implement marketplaces on their own. Many did not, and the plain text of the law clearly states that anyone buying coverage through any system other than a state-based exchange would not be eligible to receive generous taxpayer subsidies, which relieve much of the heavy cost burden for many consumers (even with the subsidies, many enrollees say they’re struggling to pay).
Faced with this predicament, the IRS decided that Congress’ true intent was for all exchange consumers to have a shot at subsidies if they were financially eligible, so it simply decreed it to be so in the form of a regulation that effectively rewrote a major provision the law. Today, the Court ruled that the law says what it says, and that the IRS overstepped. This decision, at least for now, plunges Obamacare into chaos — and furious Democrats have no one to blame but themselves. When you ram through a lengthy, hastily slapped-together, unpopular law without reading it, unintended consequences sometimes arise. And this one’s a biggie. Then again, as Will notes in his piece, a strong case can be made that this passage of the law was very much crafted intentionally, even if today’s fallout was ‘never supposed to happen.’ Congress debated how to phrase the subsidy eligibility language, and ended up passing the Senate’s version — a move made necessary by the anti-Obamacare election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. A previous House version’s verbiage had been much more encompassing. But it didn’t pass. Obamacare did. If it stands, this ruling not only strips subsidy eligibility from many Americans (which could/will touch off a breathtaking adverse selection death spiral), it liberates tens of millions from the unpopular individual mandate tax. Why? (Guy Benson)

Time for King Fiat and His Executive Order Super Glue? 🙂

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

So Israel should stop being so mean to the Palestinians… 🙂

Political Cartoons by Steve Kelley

 

‘Twas the Night Before the Deadline

Because Santa Barack extended the Deadline.

Liberals feel free to ignore the information because it comes from a Thought Police unapproved source. 🙂

But first, a Little Night Before Christmas, Obama Style:

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and at the computer, the family still huddled; the season was neutered. The stockings were hung by the chimney, all right, but getting Obamacare would take half the night.

There is nothing Americans like better than gathering together as families, swearing at the computer, as it grinds, slower and slower. The anticipation of finally getting through to the government, to sign up to pay another tax, is so thrilling, we have looked forward to it for nearly four years. In fact, we’ve been trying, with great enthusiasm, to do this since October 1.

During his umpteenth vacation, the president, lounging in Hawaii, interjected himself again into the most blessed Christian – and most-festive secular — holiday, proclaiming as only he can that the population is blessed to have such a tuned-in guy running things. He said, on what has now become the penultimate day to sign up for the new healthcare insurance tax, that we can’t forget about him and just put things off for another day. We have until midnight Christmas Eve to pay his tithe.

Obamacare’s original supporters in the health insurance industry must also be ecstatic. They will have another few hundred thousand application to process by January 1, atop the five million or so that may already be properly signed up – and they’ll have one-seventh less time. (One fifth less, if you think they’ll get Christmas and New Year’s Eve off.)

So, thank you again, Mr. President, for putting yourself front and center, for giving us another opportunity to pay your taxes, for disrupting family and sacred traditions. Enjoy Hawaii and your own super-duper health insurance. We all love you. (WP)

Americans now have until Christmas Eve to choose a health plan under Obamacare, if they want to be covered starting Jan. 1 — thanks to a one-day extension announced Monday .

Completing the enrollment process has been complicated due to technical glitches, ever-changing enrollment options, and shifting regulations, but 34% of MarketWatch readers who participated in a poll last week said they have already picked a plan.

The survey of more than 18,000 readers conducted on our website last week also found that of those who have enrolled in insurance plans or intend to, 55% said they expect their health insurance costs to increase. About 40% expect their costs to decrease and roughly 4% expect their expenses to stay the same.

Mark Grueser, a car salesman in Hibbing, Minn., is among those consumers expecting to save on health spending by moving onto an exchange plan. Grueser picked a platinum plan for him and his wife that will charge slightly more than $800 a month in premiums after subsidies and require a $2,000 deductible. That compares to a plan Grueser had with his previous employer where he paid about the same in premiums but had a $6,000 deductible. “It wasn’t really smooth sailing but it’s done,” says Grueser, 60, adding that the state exchange website froze frequently when he first created an account in late November. “The coverage is better than the coverage i had in the past.”

For Grueser, the health reform law has helped in another way: he felt more comfortable moving to a dealership that doesn’t offer insurance to employees last month partly because he knew he and his wife would soon be able to purchase insurance on the new public marketplaces. Previously, he hesitated to change jobs and lose his workplace insurance because he feared the couple would’ve been locked out of the individual market since his wife had breast cancer 12 years ago.

The Obama administration has granted consumers more time to pick a plan, pushing the deadline back by one day to Tuesday, Dec. 24 for coverage beginning at the start of next year. Among other 11th hour changes announced in recent weeks: last Thursday, government officials said that people whose individual insurance plans were set to be canceled Jan. 1 because they did not meet the minimum coverage requirements set by the Affordable Care Act will be allowed to purchase bare bones catastrophic plans or forego buying insurance altogether. Earlier that week, insurance companies announced they would give consumers until Jan. 10 to pay premiums for coverage starting on Jan. 1.

Some consumers are struggling to keep up with the last-minute rule changes. David Mak, a 31-year-old day trader in Merced, Calif., said he selected a bronze insurance plan from Anthem that comes with a monthly premium of roughly $200 and a $5,000 deductible. Being a healthy person who doesn’t smoke, Mak says he may be a good fit for one the catastrophic plans just extended to people like himself. But those plans aren’t eligible for subsidies, and there is at least one technical issue causing him to stick with the bronze plan: as of Friday his state exchange still hadn’t registered that he was eligible to enroll in a catastrophic plan and he couldn’t get through to the exchange over the phone because of high call volume. (Marketwatch)

“Now Dashel! now, Demogogues! now, Pevish and Schultz!
On, Sebelius! On, Michelle! on, on Matthews and Biden!
To the top of the Hill! to the top of the Castle Wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

And the Cookies you leave out for Santa Obama are fattening and bad for you so we’ll have to fine you and that Milk, well, it was a from a cow that penned up in a cell you nasty little bugger… 🙂

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

 

 

 

Vassal-lating

Michael Ramirez Cartoon

In 2011, the top 1% shouldered 35% of the tax burden, although their share of income was just less than 19%. The top 0.1% (one-tenth of one percent) accounted for less than 9% of all income, but paid 16% of income taxes.

What’s more, the long-term trend has been to tilt the tax burden increasingly toward the rich. In 1980, the top 1% paid less than a fifth of all income taxes; by 2011, they paid more than a third.

And this doesn’t count the various Obama tax hikes on the wealthy that kicked in this year, both as part of the January budget deal and ObamaCare.

So much for Obama’s complaint that “as a trickle-down ideology became more prominent, taxes were slashed for the wealthiest.” Just another lie, it seems.

According to a Tax Foundation analysis of new IRS data, the bottom half of income-tax filers paid 36% more in taxes in 2011 than they did in 2010 — even though their incomes barely budged.

The top half, in contrast, saw their tax burden climb only 9%. The average tax rate paid by the bottom half has climbed every year under Obama, going from 2.35% in 2009 to 3.13% in 2011.

Viewed another way, the share of “adjusted gross income” earned by the bottom half fell slightly in 2011, but their share of income taxes paid actually rose — the first such increase since 1989. (IBD)

But was made up by government transfer payments (aka welfare and the like) so if the poor didn’t have Big Brother paying them off they’d actually be paying more!

And who’s paying for those payments. In part, they are.

So it’s a shell game. It’s a dependency game. In fact, it’s all just a game.

Oh, and it get’s better. If the vassal leaves the area around the Lord’s castle they will be robbed by the King’s men.

It’s bad enough that the president’s health insurance takeover costs more, breaks his pledge of letting you keep your plan and diminishes choice. It actually restricts your travels too.

‘We have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in.” Those words from President John F. Kennedy in June 1963, standing at the Berlin Wall, neatly illustrated the moral superiority of the free West over the Soviet bloc.

But Americans are now about to find themselves grappling with their own bureaucratic Berlin Wall. The American Thinker’s Stella Paul has exposed the virtually unnoticed fact that within the ObamaCare exchanges so many Americans are being forced into, “most plans only provide local medical coverage.”

Paul warns this will have “a profound impact on the real-estate market, particularly the second home sector, and on the travel business.” She interviewed one Connecticut retiree whose health required having a winter home in South Carolina. Her $450-per-month, $2,500 deductible, no co-pay Blue Cross policy that had worked well in both states was suddenly canceled.

The new policy she was offered under ObamaCare was twice as expensive, with a deductible costing $1,000 more, and no out-of-network coverage.

Having had a surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, out-of-network coverage was a must. And she found it. “It’s $900 a month,” she told Paul, “with a $7,000 deductible and a co-pay on everything. Basically, it’s catastrophic insurance, and I’ll be paying my South Carolina doctors out of pocket.”

A prominent New York insurance broker pointed out that most of the policies offered on the ObamaCare exchanges are not national networks, so “if you need routine medical services, they will not be covered when you leave your local area,” as they were before.

Travel health insurance, unfortunately, only covers emergencies. So, the broker told Paul, “a large portion of the population will have their insurance as a consideration for their mobility, which they never had before.”

Imagine having to take all this into account in making decisions about where in America you want to live.

And as Paul asks, “With Americans no longer able to receive routine medical services when they travel, will they start showing up in emergency rooms for sore throats and backaches? And how will these new throngs of patients affect the waiting time of people with genuine medical emergencies?”

Meet the latest unpleasant ObamaCare surprise, right on the heels of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this week finally admitting that, contrary to Obama’s endlessly repeated promise, “there are some individuals who may be looking at increases” in premiums.

Unrestricted movement is a birthright of our liberty. Even socialized medicine’s harshest opponents didn’t suspect Washington would trample that freedom. (IBD)

You have to keep close to your local Lord and Master or else!

Don’t go off the reservation of venture to far from the protection of your Lord or else the beasties and robbers in the wilderness will eat you alive….

You’re a Vassal.

A vassal is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe.

Lord Government is calling…As Americans realize they must pay for all non-emergency medical care when they leave their home county.

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Political Cartoons by Robert Ariail

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson
 Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

Urging

Update: School admits they were hyper-stupid but only after the pressure got to be too much.

CNN: Amid a tidal wave of negative publicity, a Colorado school system has let a 6-year-old boy return to school and said it won’t classify his kissing a girl on the hand as sexual harassment.

The story of first-grader Hunter Yelton made national news and spurred outrage this week after word spread that his school near Colorado Springs suspended him for the kiss and accused him of sexually harassing the girl.

On Wednesday night, CNN affiliate KRDO reported that Canon City Schools Superintendent Robin Gooldy met with Hunter’s parents. The superintendent then changed Hunter’s disciplinary offense from “sexual harassment” to “misconduct.”

The boy has also returned to school at the Lincoln School of Science & Technology.

And wouldn’t you know, the ‘victim’s’  mother was a teacher at the school. 🙂

No word on the “Gateway” Sex Addict: The Hugger  in Atlanta though.

************

Nearly two weeks after Obama promised the federal exchange website would be completely fixed, his top official tacitly admitted that nothing of the sort has happened.

On Thursday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced two new ObamaCare delays. One was to require insurers to accept payment through the end of this month for coverage starting in January.

The second — and more telling — delay gives those enrolled in the temporary ObamaCare “high risk” pools an extra month to sign up for coverage through one of the new exchanges.

The law set up these high-risk pools in states that didn’t already have them, as a way to provide insurance for people with huge health bills who couldn’t get coverage any other way.

But as of October, there were only 85,798 people enrolled in one of these plans. This means the administration can’t even guarantee that this tiny group will have its applications processed on time.

Sebelius also suggested that she might push back the enrollment deadline yet again, and then listed several things she’d like the insurance industry to do on her behalf.

First, she’s “urging” insurers to cover people who haven’t paid their first month’s premium on time — presumably because she knows that a non-payment disaster looms come Jan. 1.

Are they guys in Black Suits with the words IRS on the back? 🙂

Next, she’s “strongly encouraging” them to treat out-of-network providers as “in network” for emergency care — presumably to prevent some from losing their doctors after Obama promised this would never happen.

Sebelius is also “strongly encouraging” insurers to refill prescriptions covered under a previous plan, even if they aren’t covered on their new ObamaCare plans, for a month. Just how the industry is supposed to manage this is a mystery. But the implication is clear — millions will find themselves losing the drug coverage they had, thanks to ObamaCare.

OR ELSE!

The irony here is rich. The administration had nearly four years to set up the exchanges, write the rules, test the technology and tell the public what was going on, only to see it all crash and burn on the launchpad.

Now it’s giving insurance companies a matter of days to rewrite business plans, conjure up addendums, assume additional financial risk, all to mitigate the fallout of ObamaCare’s botched launch and to spare Obama further embarrassment.

Keep in mind that the industry is already in a mad scramble to repair the faulty enrollment data they keep getting from both the federal and state exchanges.

And Obama already asked them to figure out — in a matter of weeks — how to extend policies to millions of people whose plans they had to cancel because of ObamaCare. Not only that, but they’re supposed to send all these customers a note explaining what their coverage lacks compared with available ObamaCare plans.

The fact that the insurance industry isn’t in open revolt at the complete chaos ObamaCare has unleashed, to say nothing of Sebelius’ blatant last-minute attempts at intimidation, shows just how deeply it’s now wedded to the federal government.

Industry trade group head Karen Ignagni could muster only a gentle “Tsk, tsk” over the latest round of delays, saying “continued changes to the rules and guidance could exacerbate the challenges associated with helping consumers through the enrollment process.”

When Obama signed ObamaCare into law, he said: “It will take four years to implement fully many of these reforms, because we need to implement them responsibly. We need to get this right.”

Why should the country give him still more time to get it right? (IBD)

Because they are Liberals and they are never, ever wrong. No matter what. Just ask them…
And eventually, some day, when you have no other choice you will thank them for their generosity and love… 🙂

 

The Cost Curve

‘When Americans tried it, they discovered they did not like green eggs and ham and they did not like Obamacare either,’ he said. ‘They did not like Obamacare in a box, with a fox, in a house or with a mouse. It is not working.’– Sen Ted Cruz.

Last night, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finally began to provide some data on how Americans will fare on Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchanges. HHS’ press release is full of happy talk about how premiums will be “lower than originally expected.” But the reality is starkly different.

Based on a Manhattan Institute analysis of the HHS numbers, Obamacare will increase underlying insurance rates for younger men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. Worst off is North Carolina, which will see individual-market rates triple for women, and quadruple for men.

http://www.forbes.com/special-report/2013/what-will-obamacare-cost-you-map.html

“Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected,” HHS cheerfully announces in its press release. But that’s a ruse. HHS compared what the Congressional Budget Office projected rates might look like—in 2016—to its own findings. Neither of those numbers tells you the stat that really matters: how much rates will go up next year, under Obamacare, relative to this year, prior to the law taking effect.

Former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin agrees. “There are literally no comparisons to current rates. That is, HHS has chosen to dodge the question of whose rates are going up, and how much. Instead they try to distract with a comparison to a hypothetical number that has nothing to do with the actual experience of real people.”

So the spin is full swing and if the sun rise in the west because the earth is spinning now in the opposite direction you’ll know why.

It’s Propaganda 24/7/365. The Premiums are low, they have always been low and always will be low. Anyone who disagrees will be shut down, investigate, harassed and destroyed.

There is nothing to see here.

HHS-27-yo-men HHS-27-yo-women

40-year-olds, surprisingly, will face a similar picture. The cheapest exchange plan for the average enrollee, compared to what a 40-year-old would pay today, will cost an average of 99 percent more for men, and 62 percent for women.

For this cohort, men fared worst in North Carolina, with rate increases of 305 percent. (They are a “red State” so who gives a rat’s asses-certainly not Democrats!)Women got hammered in Nebraska, where rates will increase by a national high of 237 percent. Again, Colorado and New Hampshire fared best, with 17 percent and 5-8 percent declines, respectively.

Remember that here, we aren’t conducting an exact comparison. Instead we’re comparing the lowest-cost bronze plan offered to the average participant in the exchanges, to the cheapest plan offered to 40-year-olds today. This approach artificially flatters Obamacare, because the median age of an exchange participant is, in most states, below the age of 40.

All of the analyses I’ve discussed thus far involve changes in the underlying cost of health insurance for people who buy it for themselves. Many progressives object to this comparison, because it doesn’t take into account the impact of Obamacare’s subsidies on the net cost of insurance for low-income Americans.

I’ve long argued that it’s irresponsible to ignore the change in underlying premiums, because subsidies only protect some people. Middle-class Americans face the double-whammy of higher insurance premiums, and higher taxes to pay for other people’s subsidies. However, it is important to understand how subsidies will impact the decisions by Americans as to whether or not to participate in the exchanges.

Remember that nearly two-thirds of the uninsured are under the age of 40. And that young and healthy people are essential to Obamacare; unless these individuals are willing to pay more for health insurance to subsidize everyone else, the exchanges will not serve the goal of providing coverage to the uninsured.

And remember, “subsidies” mean Government artificially suppressing the price with TAXPAYER money. THAT’S YOU!!! 🙂

And once you are truly addicted to it, they can remove the subsidies and then you’re really screwed but your too addicted to complain by then.

Hook you first. Then tell you that “the other guy” wants to take away your drugs!! So vote for me to continue letting you shoot up even if it will kill you. What do I care, if you vote for me life is good.

The bottom line: Obamacare makes insurance less affordable

For months, we’ve heard about how Obamacare’s trillions in health care subsidies were going to save America from rate shock. It’s not true. If you shop for coverage on your own, you’re likely to see your rates go up, even after accounting for the impact of pre-existing conditions, even after accounting for the impact of subsidies.

The Obama administration knows this, which is why its 15-page report makes no mention of premiums for insurance available on today’s market. Silence, they say, speaks louder than words. HHS’ silence on the difference between Obamacare’s insurance premiums and those available today tell you everything you need to know. Rates are going higher. And if you’re healthy, or you’re young, the Obama administration expects you to do your duty and pay up. (Forbes)

It’s only “fair” and “we are in this together” after all…

 

 

Independence, Progressive Style

Economic Policy: We sing of America as the land of the free, but it’s no longer the home of a free economy. We now rank 17th in economic freedom — a shameful situation.

The U.S. should have the freest economy in the world and constantly be encouraging others to catch up.

But that’s not the case. In 2013, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and Bahrain are judged to have freer economies. “The Economic Freedom of the World: 2013 Annual Report,” a joint effort of the Cato and Fraser institutes, even judges Chile, Jordan and Estonia to have freer economies.

It hasn’t always been this way.

As Cato scholar Ian Vasquez noted on the Cato-At-Liberty blog, America “has seen more than a decade of decline, having been ranked second in the index in 2000, eighth in 2005 and 17th in the current report.”

How can this be? Why the steep downward slide? The answer starts and ends with a government that can’t say “no” to its urge to expand its role forever.

Consequently, America’s ranking has fallen in all areas that the report measures. In size of government, it is ranked 59th out of 152 countries. Our legal system and security of property rights ranks 30th, while our freedom to trade internationally is 43rd.

Worse, the U.S. is a true regulatory state, ranking 121st in credit market regulation and 33rd in business regulations.

The trouble with less-free economies is their universal poor performance. The freer a country’s economy, the more prosperous its people. The less free, the more miserable.

Venezuela, Myanmar, Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Chad are the bottom five (least-free) nations, and it’s no accident that all are wretched places to live.

The life satisfaction that is closely tied to an economy’s openness and the benefits it confers is not widely found in these places. As the report says, “economic freedom … makes people richer, but it also makes them happier.”

Despite the clear advantages produced by a free economy, the U.S. is moving away in the wrong direction. It is a shift that will have severe consequences.

“Unless policies undermining economic freedom are reversed,” say the report’s authors, James Gwartney, Robert Lawson and Josh Hall, “the future annual growth of the U.S. economy will be half its historic average of 3%.”

Reversal is the key, but it won’t happen with the status quo in Washington. We have a White House and its Democratic allies in Congress that want greater government control over the economy.

For them, it’s the America of hope and change. For the rest of us, it’s an unnecessary decline into a second-rate existence. (IBD)

We have ObamaCare still because The Democrats in Washington want it. Not the People. That’s hardly “free”. Or even accurate apparently…

Four people familiar with the development of the software that determines how much people would pay for subsidized coverage on the federally run exchanges said it was still miscalculating prices. Tests on the calculator initially scheduled to begin months ago only started this week at some insurers, according to insurance executives and two people familiar with development efforts. “There’s a blanket acknowledgment that rates are being calculated incorrectly,” said one senior health-insurance executive who asked not to be named. “Our tech and operations people are very concerned about the problems they’re seeing and the potential of them to stick around.” Not surprisingly, instead of inserting a delay, the Obama administration is going to iron out the kinks as we go.

The Obama administration says open enrollment will begin Oct. 1 on schedule. “We may encounter some bumps when open enrollment begins but we’ll solve them,” said Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, one of the main offices within Medicare charged with developing the exchanges, in congressional testimony on Thursday.

Let  the crippled airliner take off anyways and then fix it after takeoff in the air…Yeah, that’s a good plan!!!

Man, how do Congressional Democrats and Government Bureaucrats want this thing. 🙂

Mark Steyn: “This is the United States of America,” declared President Obama to the burghers of Liberty, Missouri, on Friday. “We’re not some banana republic.”

He was talking about the Annual Raising of the Debt Ceiling, a glorious American tradition that seems to come round earlier every year. “This is not a deadbeat nation,” President Obama continued. “We don’t run out on our tab.”

True. But we don’t pay it off either. We just keep running it up, ever higher. And every time the bartender says, “Mebbe you’ve had enough, pal”, we protest, “Jush another couple trillion for the road. Set ’em up, Joe.” And he gives you that look that kinda says he wishes you’d run out on your tab back when it was $23.68.

“Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt.”–Obama

SO we must be more Free under him than ever, right? 🙂

Oh, then there’s Energy “independence”…

The administration finally has released its rules for curbing CO2 emissions from U.S. power plants. Far from being a plan to clean up the environment, it is in fact a road map to de-industrialization and poverty.

The tough new rules that will limit carbon dioxide output from new power plants immediately drew protests from the power industry. No surprise. But if Americans really understood what Obama is doing, they’d be up in arms, too.

Far from being an economically sensible plan to reduce U.S. pollution, this proposal will sharply raise the cost of energy to all Americans, while doing little to improve our environment.

Last year, the Institute for Energy Research estimated that the administration’s “regulatory assault” on power plants would eliminate 35 gigawatts of electrical generating capacity — or 10% of all U.S. power.

The new EPA rules will make that even worse. If you wonder why Obama has the worst jobs record of any president in modern history, look no further.

“We know this is not just about melting glaciers,” said Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy in announcing the rules Friday. She linked climate change to a host of spurious public health threats.

Yet just one day earlier, appearing before a congressional committee, McCarthy admitted that even though the EPA already has extensive rules in place to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, she had no evidence that they had done anything to halt global warming.

This is a stunning admission that these regulations aren’t about climate change at all, but rather part of an ideologically driven fight to tear the capitalist heart out of western civilization — plentiful energy, source of our highest-ever standard of living.

Worse, lying about the public health benefits ignores the real costs that come with the new regulations. Many big companies, faced with soaring costs for energy, will simply relocate plants and high-paying jobs overseas.

As the Wall Street Journal reported last week, iconic U.S. aluminum company Alcoa Inc. is moving production and jobs to other countries, in large part due to growing regulations and sharply higher energy costs.

This will be increasingly common, as will energy shortages around the country.

“If the carbon dioxide emissions standard for power plants proposed by the EPA today is enacted, the United States will have built its final coal-fired power plant,” the Competitive Enterprise Institute said.

This isn’t hyperbole. The EPA says its actions won’t cost anything — but will in fact help the power industry grow. This is plainly absurd.

New coal-fired plants will be forced to use technology to trap carbon dioxide and bury it in the ground. Problem is, as the Associated Press notes, “No coal-fired power plant has done this yet, in large part because of the cost.” Nor, we might add, do we have the technology needed to pull it off.

The U.S. has hundreds of years worth of low-cost coal to supply our energy needs. Now it’ll be off limits, thanks to another federal edict that will cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of jobs.

But it will make the Left feel “good” and proud and smug about their superiority and their power to make it happen.

Now that’s freedom.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

FREEDOM IS DEPENDENCE

FREEDOM IS REGULATION

FREEDOM IS CONTROL

🙂

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

Choice, Liberal Style

Just in case you had any doubts:

Reid said he thinks the country has to “work our way past” insurance-based health care during a Friday night appearance on Vegas PBS’ program “Nevada Week in Review.”

“What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever,” Reid said.

When then asked by panelist Steve Sebelius whether he meant ultimately the country would have to have a health care system that abandoned insurance as the means of accessing it, Reid said: “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.” (LV Sun)

Major health insurance companies–Blue Cross, Aetna, United, Humana–have decided not to participate in various states in the Obamacare health-insurance exchanges that will be the only place Americans will be able to buy a health insurance plan using the federal subsidies authorized under the Obamacare law.
In Connecticut you had 6 choices. Now you’ll have 3.
That’s your “expanded” choice, Liberal Style.
 
Mind you, when I started this blog nearly years ago I came to the conclusion that this all ultimately led to driving the Insurance Companies out of business so you only had Mama Government to depend on anyhow.
That’s the Liberal definition of Choice. You choose what they want you to choose.
Nothing else. They know best.

If You Like Your Doctor,’ Hope Your Insurer Is Participating in the Exchange

“No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period,” Obama said on June 15, 2009.

“If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period,” he said.  “No one will take it away. No matter what.”

That promise, however, has been revised by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which now says, “you may be able to keep your current doctor” in the health insurance marketplace.

“Most health insurance plans offered in the Marketplace have networks of hospitals, doctors, specialists, pharmacies, and other health care providers,”HHS said on its website for the health reform law.  “Networks include health care providers that the plan contracts with to take care of the plan’s members.”

“Depending on the type of policy you buy, care may be covered only when you get it from a network provider,” they said. (CNS)

DON’T MAKE TOO MUCH NOW, YA HEAR…

Millions of families could be facing a bizarre situation: If they earn one extra dollar a year, their insurance costs will climb by thousands. It’s just one of the many perverse outcomes ObamaCare will create.

Whenever the topic of ObamaCare costs comes up — something that is occurring with increasing frequency as insurance companies start to announce sky-high ObamaCare rates for next year — backers boast about subsidies.

Who cares if premiums are high, they say, since many will get subsidies through an ObamaCare exchange. (TAXPAYER FUNDED OF COURSE!) But what ObamaCare groupies fail to consider is that these subsidies phase out, and do so in a way that will be extraordinarily punishing for many families.

As Terence Jeffrey explained on CNSNews.com, a middle-class family earning just one more dollar could, because of the way the subsidies are structured, end up paying thousands of dollars more for health insurance.

Jeffrey discovered this when he plugged sample income data into the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Subsidy Calculator.”

http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/

A 56-year-old couple with two kids and $110,280 income would be right at the limit for ObamaCare subsidies, according to that calculator. (Subsidies phase out on incomes over 400% of poverty.) Even so, if they bought a $19,832 “Silver” plan through an ObamaCare exchange, they’d get $9,355 in premium subsidies.

But if their income were to climb to $110,281, their subsidy would drop to zero.

It’s even worse than that. ObamaCare also subsidizes out-of-pocket costs for lower-income families who buy Silver plans. And these, too, go away as income climbs.

A Commonwealth Fund report shows what this will mean to a family at the edge of the ObamaCare cliff. Once it goes over the income limit, its out-of-pocket maximum jumps from $8,066 to $12,100.

In other words, a family that has big medical bills and gets a tiny raise could suddenly face more than $13,000 in additional premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

There are mini-cliffs along the way, too, as the premium and out-of-pocket subsidies step down at various incomes.

Let’s say a family making $55,125 buys a $9,000 plan in an ObamaCare exchange. If its income climbs to $55,126, the premiums shoot up $1,800 and the out-of-pocket maximum jumps $2,000, according to a separate analysis by the American Cancer Society.

As a result, ObamaCare will create a huge incentive for millions of families either to hide income, earn it underground, or turn down a raise in order to avoid getting hit with these huge leaps in insurance costs.

But at least they won’t be “rich” assholes.

Oh, and many of them won’t have to worry about the cliffs of doom because they’ll be working part-time because their boss can afford them otherwise.

Utopia.

And this is only the first step to a much better Complete Government Control.

Rejoice.

This is on top of the many other unfortunate economic incentives ObamaCare will create.

Employers who want to avoid or minimize the massive cost of the employer mandate, for example, will do well to cut part-time hours to below 30 a week, since ObamaCare considers 30 hours full-time work. Many are already taking this step.

Companies also have an incentive to keep their full-time workforce below 50 people, since going over that exposes them to the employer mandate and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in new costs.

And as the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s James Capretta explains, ObamaCare will encourage employers to avoid hiring low-income families. Why? Companies pay a penalty only if a worker gets subsidized coverage in an ObamaCare exchange. Since wealthier families don’t get subsidies, the company won’t face any fines.

As a result, ObamaCare will end up hurting the very middle class families it was supposed to help.

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!  A Liberal “feel good” policies goes bad. Never saw that coming. I know they don’t. And I also know, they don’t care.

Anyone who thinks this all can be fixed with more tinkering to the law is missing the point. Whenever the government gets involved in a marketplace, it creates distortions that ripple across the economy. And these distortions almost always end up making the country less productive, less efficient and less prosperous.

The only way to avoid the perverse incentives that ObamaCare will create is to get rid of the law entirely.

But it’s the Holy Grail of The Left. Imagine the power of life and death at your command….

The Doctor: Davros, if you had created a virus in your laboratory, something contagious and infectious that killed on contact, a virus that would destroy all other forms of life, would you allow its use?
Davros: It is an interesting conjecture.
The Doctor : Would you do it?
Davros: The only living thing, a microscopic organism reigning supreme… A fascinating idea.
The Doctor : But would you do it?
Davros: Yes… Yes…
[raises hand as if holding the metaphorical capsule between thumb and forefingers]
Davros: To hold in my hand a capsule that contains such power, to know that life and death on such a scale was my choice… To know that the tiny pressure of my thumb, enough to break the glass, would end everything… Yes, I would do it! That power would set me up above the gods! AND THROUGH THE DALEKS, I SHALL HAVE THAT POWER!

Now just substitute Harry Reid for Davros and ObamaCare for Daleks….

Enjoy. 🙂

 
 
 

Covering The Smarter Government

nixon

Does anybody really care about an office break-in with possibly wide-ranging political implications? After all, the president isn’t a Republican.

Well, here’s a story about one anyway. John Hudson at Foreign Policy reports:

The offices of a Dallas law firm representing a high-profile State Department whistleblower were broken into last weekend. Burglars stole three computers and broke into the firm’s file cabinets. But silver bars, video equipment and other valuables were left untouched, according to local Fox affiliate KDFW, which aired security camera footage of the suspected burglars entering and leaving the offices around the time of the incident.

The firm Schulman & Mathias represents Aurelia Fedenisn, a former investigator at the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General. In recent weeks, she raised a slew of explosive allegations against the department and its contractors ranging from illicit drug use, soliciting sexual favors from minors and prostitutes and sexual harassment…

The State Department, which has repeatedly disputed Fedenisn’s allegations, denied any involvement in the incident. “Any allegation that the Department of State authorized someone to break into Mr. Schulman’s law firm is false and baseless,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Which given the Obama Track record means of course they did it!

And there you have it. If Psaki denies it, that’s the end of it. Everybody knows that the word of a State Department spokesperson is as good as pyrite.

Also, John Kerry absolutely wasn’t on his yacht as Egypt exploded into chaos last week, and it doesn’t matter that he was on his yacht because he can work from there. Oh, and the Benghazi attack was caused by a YouTube video, which had nothing to do with it and they never said it did, and it’s okay that they said it did, because it was the best information they had at the time, even though everybody knows that’s not true.

Got it? Now shut up. (DC)  🙂

#2: A top official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could not tell the House Committee on Financial Services how many Americans are being monitored through the agency’s secretive data collection program Tuesday.

Mind you this was an Obama program that was absolutely crucial to protect the citizen from the evil predatory capitalist exploitation of the mortgage and credit industry!! 🙂
Don’t you feel safer?

OBAMACARE UPDATE

‘We’ve made huge swaths of your government more efficient and more transparent, and more accountable than ever before,” President Obama claimed Monday.

But the very next day, AP reported that a “computer system problem” has caused his administration to delay yet another piece of ObamaCare for at least a year.

The delay stems from a conflict between the law’s premium penalties for smokers and its restrictions on insurance rates. While ObamaCare forbids insurance companies from adjusting rates based on health status, it does let insurers impose a significant premium penalty on smokers.

At the same time, the law forbids insurance companies from charging older people more than three times what they charge younger people. The problem is that the premiums for an older smoker can end up more than three times that of a young smoker once you include the penalties.

Late last month, Obama’s tech-savvy regulators quietly told insurance companies that they simply couldn’t figure out how to get their computers to square the two.

“The system currently cannot process a premium for a 65-year-old smoker that is more than three times the premium of a 21-year-old smoker,” it explained.

And a fix could take at least a year.

Frankenstein has a Broken leg, missing his heart, has a bad knee and tennis elbow, bad eye sight, poor hearing, spinal problems, a brain hemorrhage, and weezes like a 65 year old chain smoker, but he’s ok. Trust me! 🙂

Meanwhile, the administration tacitly admitted last week that its promise of real-time verification of a consumer’s eligibility to buy subsidized coverage at an ObamaCare exchange wasn’t exactly panning out.

Under ObamaCare, only those who don’t have access to “affordable” insurance at work can buy coverage in an exchange, and only those below certain income levels are eligible for tax subsidies.

Rather than a high-tech instant check, the administration told states they could simply take the applicants’ word for it when it comes to their employer-provided coverage, as well as their “projected annual household income,” without the need for “further verification.”

The reason Obama’s regulators gave: There’s still “a large amount of systems development on both the federal and state side, which cannot occur in time for Oct. 1, 2013.”

The Government Accountability Office had warned in June that the administration was behind schedule getting the ObamaCare data hub up and running.

The administration also admitted earlier this year that — even with a nearly four-year lead time — it would have to put off a key piece of the small-business exchanges that was supposed to let employees at small firms pick from a range of plans best suited to their needs. “Operational challenges” was the excuse given for this delay.

To be fair, states aren’t doing much better when it comes to “smarter” government. The Washington Post reported last week that Connecticut will delay almost a third of the functions they’d planned for its insurance exchange Web portal. Oregon, Nevada and other states are also cutting back on their ObamaCare websites.

But the stakes are much higher at the federal level, particularly when protecting personal data is involved. Here, too, Obama’s “smart” government falls short.

Public.Resource.org revealed this week that the IRS inadvertently exposed the Social Security numbers of as many as 100,000 taxpayers on a government website. The group described the IRS’ data security efforts as “unprofessional and amateur.”

These are the same sort of government bureaucrats, mind you, who’ll be in charge of securing vast amounts of the far more sensitive data ObamaCare will collect on millions of Americans once it goes into effect. (IBD)

And they are doing a great job so far. You can have complete trust in them. Or else!
For 85 percent of Americans, he claimed, the only change they’ll experience is superior coverage.  For virtually everyone else, there will be competitive exchanges in place starting next year, from which they’ll be able to select affordable coverage.  And if some people still aren’t able to pay those new, lower rates, the government would step in with subsidies to make up the difference. 
And you know Obama ALWAYS keeps his promises.
So Shut up! 🙂
Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

More Skunk Spray

As Democrats grow increasingly worried that ObamaCare will explode on the launch pad just as midterm elections get going, the Obama administration seeks to pin blame on Republicans. Good luck with that.

Well, let’s think about that for a moment.

The Ministry of Truth is there to lie repeatedly with great gusto to ignorant masses 24/7/365.

Tell a Lie often enough and it can become truth, especially with low and no info voters.

After all, they bought the “Vote For Me the other guys an asshole” Campaign Strategy that Obama had last campaign season.

And he’s still in Campaign mode and still raising money.

It won’t be easy since it was and is his singularly most proud moment. But that just makes the lies more challenging.

Earlier this week, Health and Human Services head Kathleen Sebelius admitted that she didn’t realize how complicated getting ObamaCare off the ground would be.

So you just blame the Republicans for “obstructing” the process as usual. That at least has worked on the moron peasant crowd before.

Sebelius complained that “no one fully anticipated” the difficulties involved in implementing ObamaCare, or how confusing it would be with the public.

Hey, the 2,700 pages of crap that no one in the Congress or The Administration actually read wasn’t a clue!

She wasn’t talking about the massive and impossible task of imposing central planning on one-sixth of the nation’s economy.

Because that was the goal all along and they wanted that. They want to control everyone and everything eventually.

Instead, she was trying to find a way to blame Republicans for ObamaCare’s failures when the inevitable problems start emerging.

And since the Republicans want to get rid of it, lets blame them for the problems and say they created them by trying to “piece meal” UNDO it or there obstruction is “causing” the problems.

Just like doing it to begin with “piece meal” was bad, according to the Left. Which is what the Republicans wanted, if anything.

Then you blame the Republicans “friends”, the industry, rich people, etc… and you have your class warfare element and your next “throw grandma/poor off the cliff” ad.

Rather than say “let’s get on board, let’s make this work,” recalcitrant Republicans have forced her to engage in “state-by-state political battles,” Sebelius said at a Harvard School of Public Health forum. “The politics has been relentless.”

So the war is the Republican’s fault. If they had just let them do it all without a fight there wouldn’t be these problems!

Of course, there would be, probably even worse than these, but that’s not how this game is played.

So let’s see if we get this. Democrats shoved an unpopular, expensive, ill-conceived and poorly written law down the country’s throat with no Republican support, and without bothering to see whether states would want to take on the thankless and costly task of helping the feds implement it.

Yes. So it MUST Be their fault! 🙂

It sure as hell can’t be the Democrats fault. There intentions and ambitions were pure as the driven snow. They are the Angels of Mercy and Compassion…Besides, they can lie about the votes and the support. Hell, that was 4 years ago, the low or no information moron won’t remember it and if we lie about the History well enough…

And now that many of these states are rebelling, it’s the Republicans’ fault?

Of Course it is. Any time you rebel against the yoke of your Morally and Politically Superior Masters on The Left it’s your Fault! 🙂

Sebelius’ fellow Democrat, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, had a more accurate take on the problem the administration faces: the law is “probably the most complicated piece of legislation ever passed by the United States Congress” and “if it isn’t done right the first time, it will just simply get worse.”

Or it could just be worse to begin with… 🙂

Rockefeller, like a growing number of Democrats, realizes that ObamaCare is shaping up to be a political disaster for the party next November.

So we have to start the Campaign Now to blame someone else for it!

The influential Cook Political Report noted earlier this month that almost all of the Democratic insiders they talked to “voiced concern about the potential for the issue to hurt Democrats in 2014.”

And just what could explain these concerns?

Maybe it’s because even Sebelius now admits that ObamaCare will force insurance claims up 32%.

Gee, that’s a bit of a ways from lowering your premiums by thousands of dollars.

Or possibly it’s because, despite endless assurances that the insurance exchanges would be ready on time, the administration had to delay for a year a key feature meant to give small business a choice of health plans.

Or because neither Sebelius nor the states have provided evidence they can get the rest of the exchanges ready by Oct. 1, when ObamaCare’s open enrollment begins.

Or that a key provision, The High Risk Pool (pre-existing conditions) portion is already bankrupt NOW and will need a “bailout” by the time this all kicks off. 🙂

Or perhaps Democrats’ fears stem from state insurance commissioners warning of a rate shock once ObamaCare’s “community rating” rules and benefit mandates start. Or from rising evidence the law is hurting job growth as small businesses try to avoid its costs.

Townhall: The $1.3 trillion U.S. health-care system overhaul is getting more expensive and will initially accomplish less than intended. Costs for a network of health-insurance exchanges, a core part of the Affordable Care Act, have swelled to $4.4 billion for fiscal 2012 and 2013 combined, and will reach $5.7 billion in 2014, according to the budget President Barack Obama yesterday sent to Congress. That spending would be more than double initial projections, even though less than half the 50 U.S. states are participating. The unanticipated spending is a consequence of an ambitious timetable dictated by Congress and a complex new way of offering people medical coverage, say analysts, lobbyists and administration officials. Combine that with a majority of Republican governors declining to cooperate with a Democratic president and U.S. regulators are left grasping to get the 2010 health law up and running by a Jan. 1, 2014, deadline. For the areas that money can’t solve, the Obama administration is opting for delay. It temporarily backed off some provisions of the law, including restrictions on coverage for executives and a promise to offer small businesses greater choices of health plans. 

And there are still the 1,700 Waivers they gave their friends.
Costing more, and doing less.  What a deal. (sounds like a typical liberal idea) Remember, the federal government simply assumed that every state would set up its own exchange — despite strong public opposition to the law, and high associated costs coupled with heavy-handed federal mandates with scant flexibility.

Oh course they did. They are the Morally Superior Left. Everyone loves them because they are so vastly superior to you morons that you’ll just roll over and do whatever they want you to do.

Why would anyone question that?

And if you fight them, then they have to be the Parent who blames the other one for wanting to be so mean because they are so perfect it can’t possibly be their fault.

None of this, mind you, has anything to do with Republicans. And if the GOP were smart, it’d be focused on making sure that, come next November, the public knows that, too. (IBD)

Yeah, but I’m not convinced they are that smart. They don’t have a great track record of it lately. Especially with “Jar Jar” Boehner at the helm.

Conservatives must resist the temptation to bury their heads in the sand for possible short term political advantage.  That’s what liberals are for!

Which means come 2014 we won’t smell success against Obamacare, just more Skunk spray.

Political Cartoons by Chuck Asay

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

 

Doing The Math

The number of American workers collecting federal disability payments climbed to yet another record of 8,853,614 in March, up from 8,840,427 in February, according to newly released data from the Social Security Administration.

But don’t worry, the economy is “improving”. 🙂

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

The Obama administration wants banks to lower lending standards, and Fannie and Freddie are back in the black. The stage is set for a replay of some very unpleasant history.

Do you miss the thrill you felt when your wealth got vaporized in 2008?

Well, they want to do it again. Because it’s only “fair”….And after all, it was the Banks’ fault! 🙂

Michael Ramirez Cartoon

Let’s do the math: We have nearly 30 million uninsured people about to get medical coverage under the health care law come January. And we have a projected shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians by 2020. Add to that the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), with 43,000 members who say they can offer basic care if state laws would just let them set up an independent practice without doctor supervision.

And the answer is …

The nurse-practitioners, of course, say it’s a matter of simple addition: New laws are needed to give them more autonomy.

But doctors say it’s a miscalculation to think that patient safety won’t be compromised by not having a doctor overseeing things. Family physicians have more than four times as much education and training, accumulating an average of 21,700 hours, whereas nurse-practitioners receive 5,350 hours, the American Academy of Family Physicians points out.

So you’ll get the clerk instead of the mechanic to fix you up.

But fear not! Obama is here to save you.

Last week, one of the world’s leading consulting firms, Milliman, warned about sticker shock ahead for individuals and families buying health insurance.

How did the White House respond? In its usual Orwellian fashion, it said, “Health care costs are falling, thanks to the reform law.” Falling is correct only if you’re standing on your head.

President Obama repeatedly promised that insurance exchanges would save families up to $2,300 a year.

He couldn’t possibly have believed it. From day one, it was obvious the law would push up premiums.

That’s because it requires insurers to cover services rarely covered in the past, puts sick people in the same risk pool with the healthy and slaps insurers with $100 billion in taxes to pass along to consumers.

Who will be clobbered by high premiums? Everyone buying insurance on the exchanges.

Those are people who customarily buy their own insurance (about 25 million) and people who are currently uninsured but have to get it beginning in 2014, and finally millions of people whose employers will drop coverage in response to the law’s costly requirements. Milliman predicts 67 million people in all by 2017.

These people will have no choice but to buy the one-size-fits-all “essential benefits package.”

That includes treatment for drug addiction, maternity care and dental and vision care for children. Only 2% of plans currently include all these services. When the law compels insurers to cover more, it compels consumers to pay more.

The Ohio Department of Insurance says the requirements will push up premiums 20% to 30%.It cheats the couple not having any more children and the straight-arrows who will never shoot heroin.

The healthy also get whacked. Until now, most states helped people with pre-existing conditions by setting up separate, subsidized risk pools.

Someone in the sickest 5% of the population will use 17 times as much care as a healthy person, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The Obama health law pools everyone together and requires the healthy to pay as much as the sick.

This is like asking you to subsidize the premiums of the guy who has 15 speeding tickets and 5 DUIs but is required to have insurance! (they do exist by the way- High risk pools)
See Adverse Selection. 🙂
So what’s the answer…Slick Marketing!! 🙂

Uninsured: The White House recently released details about how it plans to market ObamaCare to the uninsured. What it reveals is that most of them don’t want what the administration is trying to force them to buy.

In a series of slides posted on the Health and Human Services’ website, the administration explains how it plans to market ObamaCare to the uninsured.

Let’s leave aside for a minute the oddity of this effort. Its backers have endlessly touted ObamaCare as a miracle of modern government that will at long last bring insurance within reach of 48 million people who desperately want it. Besides, the law mandates that everyone buy ObamaCare coverage.

So why the need for a big marketing push at all?

Once you look at the marketing slides the HHS has produced, you find the answer.

It turns out that the Democrats and the Obama administration apparently didn’t bother to investigate who these uninsured people actually are before they forced through a $1.8 trillion plan to help them.

What they’ve learned since is that more than half of the 48 million who the government says are uninsured aren’t interested in health insurance, which is why they don’t bother to buy it in the first place.

The administration now admits that vast numbers of the uninsured will be unlikely to respond to ObamaCare’s marketing pitches.

The biggest market segment identified by HHS, in fact, is what it describes as “healthy and young,” who make up 48% of the uninsured population.

They have “a low motivation to enroll” because they are in “excellent to very good health” and so “take health for granted.”

Plus, as the HHS has apparently just discovered, most of them say that cost is the main reason they don’t have coverage.

Then there are the “passive and unengaged,” which make up 15% of the uninsured and also have a “low motivation to enroll” because they “live for today.” They also cite cost as a key factor.

The problem, of course, is that ObamaCare will make insurance vastly more expensive for many of those who fall into these groups by larding on new benefit mandates and placing limits on premium-lowering deductions and co-pays. It will also introduce insurance market rules that force the young and healthy to subsidize premiums for those older and sicker.

State insurance commissioners have been warning the administration about how all this will cause “rate shocks.”

And even ObamaCare’s backers admit that its subsidies won’t compensate for all the new costs these rules will impose, making it even less likely that these groups will sign.

Indeed, the only group likely to rush into ObamaCare’s arms are the 29% who the HHS says are “sick, active and worried” who will have the “highest predicted responsiveness” to mass media ads.

See adverse selection. And Moral Hazard. And you should understand why this whole thing is so doomed….

If only these people sign up, ObamaCare’s premiums will spiral out of control, as the pool of insured gets sicker and more expensive.

And that, in turn, will cause still more of the young and healthy to drop insurance and taxpayer subsidy costs to skyrocket.

Democrats may think that a big, slick marketing campaign can change all this. Our guess is that it will be about as effective as Ford’s was for the Edsel. (IBD)

But you get to pay for it, in perpetuity!! 🙂

Imagine if you and your friends split the tab for coffee every day, and then someone who orders a five-course meal joins the group. Oliver Wyman, management consultants, reported that putting people with pre-existing conditions in the risk pool will push up premiums 40%.

Similarly, Milliman predicts medical claims going up 32% on average and by as much as 62% in California and 80% in Ohio by 2017.

$100 billion in new federal sales taxes on health plans over the next decade will clobber consumers, too. In New York, where premiums will be highest, the taxes will add $900 a year to the cost of a family plan, Oliver Wyman estimates.

The White House dismisses concerns about rising premiums, saying consumers with moderate incomes will get subsidies. That’s like arguing that it’s OK for food prices to double because the needy can get food stamps. Taxpayers foot the bill for subsidies. And consumers ineligible for them get socked with sky-high costs.

Even with subsidies, millions of people coerced to sign up will stop paying premiums. A family with two adults, two kids and a household income of $35,300 will be eligible for an $11,090 subsidy paid directly to the insurer, but they will have to pay at least $118 a month toward the premium.

Families living paycheck to paycheck will default in order to make rent or car payments.

This is the mortgage crisis and the college loan crisis all over again. Another gift from the politicians who think Washington knows best. (IBD)

‘Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.’ –George Washington

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

Photo

Happy Anniversary, ObamaCare

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Just over three years ago, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously quipped about ObamaCare that “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.”

But only now, as ObamaCare’s third anniversary approaches — President Obama signed it into law on March 23, 2010 — is the country starting to find out what the sweeping health care overhaul will actually do.

ObamaCare backers typically tout popular features that went into effect almost immediately. The law expanded Medicare’s drug coverage, for example, and let children stay on their parents’ plans until they turned 26.

So why does “Obamacare” (officially known as the “Affordable Care Act”) remain so irresistible for so many of our fellow Americans? Because at its core Obamacare is not about health care, so much as it is about the redistribution of wealth, and for those who are on the receiving end of the redistribution the agenda is completely irresistible.

When the federal government doles-out cash, it’s difficult to say “no.”

But the bulk of ObamaCare doesn’t take effect until next year. That’s when the so-called insurance exchanges are supposed to be up and running, when the mandate on individuals and businesses kicks in, and when the avalanche of regulations on the insurance industry hits.

As this start date draws near, evidence is piling up that ObamaCare will:

Boost insurance costs. Officially the “Affordable Care Act,” ObamaCare promised to lower premiums for families. But regulators decided to impose a 3.5% surcharge on insurance plans sold through federally run exchanges. There’s also a $63 fee for every person covered by employers. And the law adds a “premium tax” that will require insurers to pay more than $100 billion over the next decade. The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation expects insurers to simply pass this tax onto individuals and small businesses, boosting premiums another 2.5%.

Push millions off employer coverage. In February, the Congressional Budget Office said that 7 million will likely lose their employer coverage thanks to ObamaCare — nearly twice its previous estimate. That number could be as high as 20 million, the CBO says.

Cause premiums to skyrocket. In December, state insurance commissioners warned Obama administration officials that the law’s market regulations would likely cause “rate shocks,” particularly for younger, healthier people forced by ObamaCare to subsidize premiums for those who are older and sicker.

“We are very concerned about what will happen if essentially there is so much rate shock for young people that they’re bound not to purchase (health insurance) at all,” said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

That same month, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said ObamaCare will likely cause premiums to double for some small businesses and individuals.

And a more recent survey of insurers in five major cities by the American Action Forum found they expect premiums to climb an average 169%.

Cost people their jobs. The Federal Reserve’s March beige book on economic activity noted that businesses “cited the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.”

Around the same time, Gallup reported a surge in part-time work in advance of ObamaCare’s employer mandate. It found that part-timers accounted for almost 21% of the labor force, up from 19% three years ago.

Meanwhile, human resources consulting firm Adecco found that half of the small businesses it surveyed in January either plan to cut their workforce, not hire new workers, or shift to part-time or temporary help because of ObamaCare.

Tax the middle class. IBD reported in February that much of the $800 billion in tax hikes imposed by ObamaCare will end up hitting the middle class, including $45 billion in mandate penalties, $19 billion raised by limiting medical expense deductions, $24 billion through strict limits on flexible spending accounts, plus another $5 billion because ObamaCare bans using FSAs to buy over-the-counter drugs.

Add to the deficit. The Government Accountability Office reported in January that Obama-Care will likely add $6.2 trillion in red ink over 75 years if independent experts are right and several of its cost control measures don’t work as advertised.

Cost more than promised. The Congressional Budget Office now says ObamaCare’s insurance subsidies will cost $233 billion more over the next decade than it thought last year.

Be a bureaucratic nightmare. Consumers got their first glimpse of life under ObamaCare when the Health and Human Services Department released a draft insurance application form. It runs 21 pages. “Applying for benefits under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul could be as daunting as doing your taxes,” the AP concluded after reviewing the form.

Exacerbate doctor shortages. Last summer, a study by the Association of American Medical Colleges found that the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than its needs by 2015, thanks in large part to ObamaCare. At the same time, a survey of 13,000 doctors by the Physicians Foundation found that almost 60% of doctors say ObamaCare has made them less optimistic about the future of health care and they would retire today if they could.

Leave millions uninsured. After 10 years, ObamaCare will still leave 30 million without coverage, according to the CBO. As IBD reported, that figure could be much higher if the law causes premiums to spike and encourages people to drop coverage despite the law’s mandate.

Corporate Welfare. That thing that liberals supposedly hate.

But with Obamacare, the “customer service” element has become more of a “corporate welfare” element. Companies, careers, and personal fortunes are being made by people who are the states, as firms bill the individual states millions of taxpayer dollars for the website and call center set-ups (and the Obama administration frequently offers to reimburse the states for the set-up costs).

Take for example a company called Leavitt Partners, LLC. Founded by the former Republican Governor of Utah (and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services) Michael Leavitt, the company describes itself as a “healthcare intelligence business,” and is focused solely on state-by-state Obamacare compliance (they have already completed Utah’s insurance exchange start-up).

We’re talking here about Michael Leavitt, the former Utah Governor who last year endorsed and campaigned on behalf of Mitt Romney, the presidential candidate who pledged to “end” Obamacare. Yes, that Michael Leavitt is making millions advising the states on how to comply with the monstrosity that his pal Mitt wanted to eliminate.

How much money is in play for these companies? Consider that last fall representatives from Leavitt’s company traveled north and proposed to build an exchange for their tiny nieghboring state of Idaho, a state with a population of less than 1.7 million people. Once the Leavitt representatives unveiled their proposed price tag to build an exchange – $70 million-an incredulous member of Idaho’s state insurance task force asked “does Governor Leavitt really believe that this is a good idea?”

Company associate Brett Graham replied with the nuanced explanation that “Governor Leavitt doesn’t like the feds dictating to the states,” however, the Governor also believes that the states should “stand inside the circle with the feds rather than stand outside of it”- which was an artful way of saying “yes, Governor Leavitt likes this and wants to get paid to show you how to do it.”

Leavitt’s proposal was not the most expensive that the sparsely populated Idaho received. The global accounting and consulting firm KPMG weighed-in with a price tag of $77 million, and when a state official asked what the residents of Idaho would get in return for such a large expenditure, KPMG representative Andrew Gottschalk was vague: “It’s hard to explain exactly what you get…It’s hardware, it’s software, there’s infrastructure, there’s people and staffing” he stated. “There would likely be a call center. It’s all kinds of things… there’s a lot of stuff….but it’s hard to be specific.”

States spending millions of taxpayer dollars, and receiving “all kinds of things” and “a lot of stuff” in return. That’s our present-day reality with Obamacare. Along with Leavitt Partners and KPMG, global consulting firms Maximus and Mercer are also cashing-in. These firms employ well educated, highly skilled professionals with JD’s, MBA’s, and advanced degrees in information systems and healthcare management, most of whom would undoubtedly reject the idea that they are welfare recipients. As the Maximus corporate website states, “we leverage our extensive experience and strong commitment to ethics to provide high quality services and solutions.”

Along with the Obamacare cash that’s flowing in to private consultants’ accounts, there’s the money that’s being handed-out to state and county governments under the auspice of Medicaid expansion. A key component of Obamacare was to have mandated that the individual states reduce eligibility requirements for Medicaid, and expand the number of participants in their respective programs. However, the United States Supreme Court overturned that component of the Obamacare law, so expansion of Medicaid is an elective choice for each of the states.

But not to worry, the President has made the expansion of the federal Medicaid welfare program irresistible, as the Administration is offering to pay 100% of the expansion costs for the first three years, for states that agree to the expansion this year. That’s why, for example, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has refused to allow an Obamacare insurance exchange in his state, nonetheless agreed to the Medicaid expansion – when you can get the fed’s to pay for people’s “free” healthcare, that alleviates the state and county agencies from paying for it. It creates an addiction to federal spending, but if you’re in charge of a state or federal agency, it makes sense on some level.

This is the reality of Obamacare. It’s wildly unpopular for the masses, but irresistible for those on the receiving end of the money grab.

And isn’t that just exactly what Liberals purportedly hate? The rich get richer off the poor and the poor get the shaft.

Fascinating birthday present. 🙂

Let’s Not Talk Facts

Townhall: The year 1965  (US Population 194 Million) brought us a new program aimed at securing health care for Americans over the age of 65. This program is now becoming the centerpiece of the 2012 presidential campaign, yet many Americans don’t understand the basic financial facts about the plan, or why its sustainability is considered so essential to America’s future.

Funded by payroll tax deductions, Medicare was implemented to help pay for medical procedures, hospital costs, and doctor visits. Later a prescription drug benefit was added. Since workers paid for the plan throughout their work years, they naturally felt entitled to this important retirement benefit when they turned 65. Unfortunately, the incoming money wasn’t set aside in a separate trust fund, but was instead borrowed by the federal government to pay for other government expenses. Our leaders put slips of paper into the fund equivalent to IOUs. They called them bonds, but elected officials were borrowing the money, just like they now sell bonds to the Chinese.

So now we have what some believe is a crisis. The amounts being paid out by Medicare now far exceed what we are taking in, and reputable analysts agree that the fund will run dry by 2024 or near that time. (population projected to be 335 Million- that 141 million people MORE) The reasons are simple:

The population of the United States is aging and many people are living much longer. (up from 73 to 83 since Medicare started so people are living on the benefits much longer than they used to-costing more. So more people living longer and costing more.)

• Technological innovation has driven up the cost of medicine. Things like MRIs, knee replacements, and heart stents have preserved lives, but cost lots of money.

• Third party payments for services. You may not agree with this point, but when a “customer” doesn’t personally pay for a service, there is usually less concern about the price. Because insurance companies and government programs pay for so much health care, people are less diligent about controlling costs.

Hey, it’s Free! 🙂

See: http://www.census.gov/prod/2/pop/p25/p25-1131.pdf

Life Expectancy: http://www.data360.org/dsg.aspx?Data_Set_Group_Id=195

http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

A Dollar in 1965 is now the equivalent of $7.27 now. So by 2025 it could easily be 8 times as much. Those are the facts. Something a Liberal will not acknowledge under any circumstances.

Its throw grandma off a cliff, kill seniors, crush the poor, destroy the middle class, steal candy from babies…et al.

FEAR IS HOPE!

In 1965, the cost of the Medicare program was projected to be $9 billion in 1990; it was actually $65 billion. Since then, the number has skyrocketed. Medicare spending was about $560 billion in 2011, and is slated to grow to nearly $1 trillion by 2022 – an amount generally agreed by both political parties to be unsustainable. There may be a few diehards who don’t believe we need a significant change of trajectory, but I haven’t spoken to them.

Now we have a Vice-Presidential candidate who has come out (before he was selected) with a plan to reform Medicare. You can disagree with his proposal, but you can’t disagree with the fact that he has a thoughtful, concrete plan, co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon – which makes it bipartisan.

Simply put, it does the following:

• Anyone over 55 years old wouldn’t see any change to Medicare as it is currently constituted.

• Anyone younger than 55 would be given an option. Either they could choose a private insurance company (similar to the Medicare Advantage program instituted in the 1970’s), or they could enroll in Medicare as a fee-for-service program that would continue to pay directly for care. The difference is they would be given a quantified amount to pay for their insurance where there would be caps depending on financial need.

No one currently receiving Medicare would be affected and everyone else would have a ten- year window to plan for the changes ahead. This may be a perfect plan, a lousy plan or something in-between depending on your perception, but it is a plan to confront the problem.

The President doesn’t like to speak of how he has altered Medicare, but his spokesperson, Stephanie Cutter, admitted on Face the Nation that there is a $700 billion cut to Medicare in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). She stated that this was a reduction of payments to insurance and drug companies, but they are clearly cuts and they go into effect on January 1, 2013. She also stated that the President plans another $300 billion in cuts in his current plans.

American politicians are afraid of discussing cuts to any program; after all, whenever there’s a cut, someone gets less than they currently receive. But many people are also legitimately frightened by our out-of-control budgets at all levels of government, and the realization that we have made future commitments that are completely unsustainable. You may not believe that, but more and more Americans clearly shiver as cities are going bankrupt while we’re mortgaging our future with annual trillion dollar budget deficits and a national debt of $16 trillion.

The question that we all must face is can either Medicare or Social Security remain sustainable when we have deficits this large? With the national debt ballooning, expenditures for entitlement programs will be squeezed out by interest payments. What happens to these programs when interest rates rise which we all know will have to happen sometime and probably not too long from now?

The President and his allies have confronted the issue, but appear reluctant to say they have. This is made worse by the fact that it’s unlikely that Congress will ever approve the cuts. After all, for each of the past several years, Congress has approved a bill to “adjust” (raise) Medicare payments to doctors so that seniors don’t scream when their doctors refuse to provide services.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are betting that the American people will not be scared into believing that Medicare is going away. They believe that Americans realize that there is a severe crisis, and that things have to change before we’re forced to change. And they have faith that seniors understand that even though they won’t be personally affected by Ryan-Wyden, changes must be made for the benefit of their children and grandchildren. Time will tell whether they are correct. But let us be clear, Mr. Romney has never adopted the Ryan-Wyden Plan and he is the presidential candidate not Paul Ryan.

You now have the facts in terms as simply as can be stated and hopefully in as unbiased a way as possible. You are smart enough to make your own decision.

So that’s why you’re going to throw grandma off a cliff after she has been eating dog food, according to the Left.

After all, facts are worthless to them so they aren’t interested in them.

Facts are boring, Fear is exciting.

And besides, it’s great for the Public Sector Unions (and their incestuous monetary relations with the Democrats):

Eye-popping salaries proposed for employees of the health benefits exchange being formed in Colorado grabbed the attention of Republicans and Democrats alike on Thursday. A subcommittee of the board charged with establishing the exchange  is considering a draft budget for its federal grant application that would create 24 positions and pay those employees a total of more than $3 million annually to manage the health care cooperative. The average annual salary of a health benefits exchange employee would exceed $125,000 under the plan. …“We have executive directors (of state departments) that are in charge of thousands of people here that make significantly less than that,” said Sen. Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs. …A Democrat on the committee overseeing enactment of health benefits exchange legislation in the state agreed that the figures are worthy of scrutiny. …Under the health care overhaul, states were required to establish exchanges. Colorado authorized its exchange this year in SB200.

Keep in mind that the $125,000 figure is an average, which means many of the bureaucrats will be getting much bigger paychecks.

“Obamacare is a great racket!”

And also remember that we’re talking Colorado, not someplace like New York City where the cost of living is a bit higher. (townhall)

So Fear, Intimidation, and Crony Capitalism. What could be better?

4 More Years!  🙂

NOVEMBER IS COMING!

Happy Birthday ObamaCare

Happy Birthday, ObamaCare. Six months old today and raising the cost of medical care, restricting patient options and causing employers to drop workers three years before even being fully implemented.

Congratulations!!

Steve Kelly

Take Minnesotan Gail C., who hoped to offset a monthly premium increase by raising her deductible. Instead, her insurer advised that such a change would not comply with ObamaCare provisions. She could make the adjustment but would no longer have guaranteed rates and could face penalties for exercising what used to be her freedom of choice.

When Conservatives for Patients’ Rights launched in February 2009, we called for patient-centered, free-market health care reform based on Four Pillars — choice, competition, accountability and personal responsibility. Instead, ObamaCare removes choice from patients and doctors, strangles market competition, provides no accountability from government and relegates personal responsibility — and control — to the ash heap of history.

Worse, it includes purchase mandates forcing individuals to buy health care — and employers to provide it — or face stiff fines.

Citing constitutional and statutory grounds, 43 states have now either joined Florida’s lawsuit to oppose ObamaCare, instituted their own legal challenges, filed legislation against coverage mandates or have citizen initiatives in play.

As far back as June 2009, national polls showed that Americans opposed key provisions by more than 55%. A poll taken by CNN hours before the March 2010 vote found that the majority of Americans did not support the bill. Sixty-two percent felt it would increase health care costs, and 70% thought it would swell the deficit. They were right.

The will of the people remains clear. An August poll by the liberal-leaning Kaiser Family Foundation found that 48% of independent voters held unfavorable views, and a recent Rasmussen poll shows that 61% of likely voters and 74% of “mainstream” voters openly favor repeal. With $500 billion in Medicare cuts heading to states and $600 billion in taxes and penalties aimed at consumers and businesses, Americans know that ObamaCare is a train wreck.

Government actuaries are predicting that health care costs could soon rise 20%, faster than if government had done nothing. A Congressional Budget Office analysis released just before the March vote indicated that premiums could double in six years.

Americans don’t need a 14-digit calculator to predict what happens when insurers must immediately take all comers to coverage — even those who got sick yesterday — without higher premiums. Restrictions make private coverage unsustainable. Which, of course, was always the endgame of ObamaCare.

As midterm elections approach, voters’ aversion to ObamaCare is apparent. Many House and Senate Members who voted for the plan are preparing for pink slips. In Arkansas, 64% opposed the “yea” vote of incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln, and 61% approved the “nea” of GOP Rep. John Boozman, who is challenging her. Boozman leads Lincoln by 17 points.

While many incumbents lost to primary challengers, the 34 House Democrats who voted against ObamaCare survived. And it’s impossible to find pro-ObamaCare references in any campaign advertising.

More significant than actual election results, these prevailing political trends demonstrate the resurgent will of the American people. All is not lost; that which has been done can be undone.

In early 2009, CPR met with the editorial board of a major national newspaper. After hearing our Four Pillars and mission to oppose government control of health care and the public option in particular, board members said we were wasting time and money as the debate would be over and government health care passed within 90 days.

Fifteen months later, ObamaCare barely passed, and only when conservative Democrats caved to leadership pressure and the offer of tantalizing political goodies. And it passed without the public option, previously considered a given. Such miscalculations show political elites to be fundamentally at odds with values like choice, competition, accountability and personal responsibility.

The people were right last March and are still right today. Because groups like Conservatives for Patients’ Rights embraced real, constructive reform, ObamaCare was passed over the objections of a public educated on its details and the consequences for American health care. Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have needed to pass it to know what was in it, but America didn’t.

The people didn’t want it then, don’t want it now and have always had the power to go back. They want patient-centered reforms that lower cost and expand choice without government control. And they want Obama-Care repealed. Americans will not cease efforts to that end, and no elected official is safe until it’s done. In this republic, the will of the people ultimately prevails. (IBD)

There is ample evidence to show that ObamaCare will cost jobs, raise health care costs and saddle future generations with crippling debt.

But don’t you dare blame the increases in premiums and costs on Obamacare!

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth, or in this case a Jackass (Donkey).

HHS Secretary Sebelius has already threatened them, but now Sen. Max “I never read the bill” Baucus (and Senate Health Care Bill author) is threatening them.

NEW YORK, Sept 20 (Reuters) – Two Democratic U.S. senators are demanding more transparency about premium increases from health insurers and warning them against blaming higher rates on a newly passed reform law. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana and Commerce Committee Chairman John Rockefeller of West Virginia said they sent a letter to the five largest health insurers by enrollment registering their concerns over increases for next year.

“I want health insurance companies to be transparent and honest when increasing premiums  (You First. :))— and health care reform is simply not to blame,” Rockefeller said in a statement.

“Health plans will continue to do everything they can to implement the new law in a way that minimizes disruption and keeps coverage as affordable as possible for individuals, families and employers,” Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans organization, said in a statement. “Political attacks won’t do anything to make coverage more affordable for working families and small businesses that are struggling in a slow economy,” Zirkelbach said.

But Politicial attacks is all the Democrats now how to do. Especially 40 days from an election it’s all they know how to do.

“Health insurers should be transparent about the assumptions they use to arrive at their premium increases,” the senators wrote. “If an insurer thinks it can blame the enactment of the Affordable Care Act for its rising premiums, it is surely mistaken.”

Don’t blame the actual cause, because that’s not politically advantageous to us. So we want you to lie, just like we do and sugar coat it, suck it up, and give them the Orwellian Bovine Fecal Matter that we have been shoveling in their direction for 2 years.

Or at the very least shut up and do as you are told.

Health Czarina and Grand Vizier, the Great and Powerful OZ Says so or else we will bring about our terrible wrath upon you! 🙂

You wouldn’t want to be on their Enemies List now would you? 🙂

ObamaCare gives Ms. Sebelius’s regulators the power to define “unreasonable” premium hikes, which will mean whatever they decide it will mean later this fall. She promised to keep a list of insurers “with a record of unjustified rate increases” and then to bar them from ObamaCare’s subsidized “exchanges” when they come on line in 2014. In other words, insurers must accept price controls now or face the retribution of a de facto ban on selling their products to consumers four years from now.

This is nasty stuff and an obvious attempt to shift political blame for rising insurance costs before the election. It’s also an early sign of life under ObamaCare, when all health-care decisions are political and the bureaucrats decide who can charge how much for a service or product.

Democrats built this system and they now own it politically. The least they could do is take credit for its consequences. (WSJ)

Senator Max Baucus recently admitted that he never read the Obamacare legislation.  But that hasn’t stopped him from trying to re-write it after the fact, asserting that Congress intended to give people even less choice of private health plans than described in the bill!

This overreach should encourage states that are trying to block Obamacare: It’s going to be even worse than we initially thought.

Obamacare reduces choice of health plans by giving government the power to control the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) – the amount of dollars an insurer spends on medical care divided by the total premiums. Under Obamacare, policies that cover large businesses will have to achieve an MLR of 85 percent, while those for small businesses and individuals will have to achieve an MLR of 80 percent. This sounds simple but leaves many issues unresolved.

An important one is the treatment of taxes: Taxes are not medical care, but nor are they under health plans’ control. So, Obamacare excludes taxes from total costs used to calculate the MLR. Senator Baucus leads a group of senators who now assert that what they meant to pass was a bill that exempted some taxes from health plans’ MLR calculations, but not corporate income taxes.

If it prevails, Baucus’ flawed notion will lead to an immediate reduction of choice of health plans.  Suppose two insurers of the same size compete in a region’s large-group market. They earn premiums of $1 million each. They each spend $850,000 on medical claims, thereby achieving an MLR of 85 percent. One insurer is for-profit, earning a profit of 4 percent ($40,000), and pays combined federal and state corporate income tax of 45 percent ($18,000). Its MLR automatically shrinks to 83.5 percent and Obamacare shuts it down.

Even without Baucus’ newly invented interpretation, the MLR is deadly for increasingly popular consumer-directed plans. Suppose a traditional policy costs $4,000 and spends $3,400 on patient care, for an MLR of 85.00. With the consumer-directed policy, the patient controls $800 more of the medical spending than with the traditional policy, through a higher deductible, and his premium goes down by $800. In this case the MLR goes down to 81.25 ($2,600/$3,200). There is no real difference, but the accounting looks worse, and Obamacare shuts it down. (In fact, consumer-driven plans have lower total costs than in this simple example, because cutting out the middleman and giving more health dollars to patients to control themselves motivates them to get better value for money.)

MLRs are also irrelevant because the insured and their employers tend to choose health plans based on other criteria—likely invisible to politicians and bureaucrats. Plans with relatively low MLRs have increased market share in the last few years.

There is no doubt: Obamacare will severely reduce Americans’ choice of health plans. Fortunately, states are using a number of tools to resist Obamacare, until it is repealed. To impose its anti-choice regulations, the federal law relies on state-based “exchanges” that would choose health insurance for their citizens.

Tim Pawlenty, governor of Minnesota, has signed an executive order forbidding state bureaucrats from even applying for federal grants to set up an “exchange” to limit people’s choice of health plan. As Obamacare deploys its regulatory regime, other governors are likely to follow his lead.

So Happy Birthday to the worst political stink bomb in American History.