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

 

 

The Echo Chamber

…the most astonishing dance step in the post-shutdown shuffle might be the president’s call to “stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict” and instead “grow this economy, create good jobs, strengthen the middle class, educate our kids, lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul.”

In other words, all those people who disagree with HIM and THEM. You should only listen to their “echo chambers”…:)

Michael Ramirez Cartoon

Pretty business-friendly, right? But the friendliness isn’t reciprocated. The Federal Reserve’s beige book survey of businesses on Wednesday pointed a sharp finger at the devastating effects of ObamaCare, with employers cutting workers’ hours or laying off employees because of the law.

The Dallas Fed reported one business respondent describing signed contracts in which a temporary employee is made full-time, but will later be hired permanently (but part-time) when ObamaCare is implemented.

Businesses aren’t forced into such absurd, unproductive acrobatics because of something Sen. Ted Cruz or the Tea Party did. Years of the worst economic recovery in U.S. history didn’t happen because of a recent, brief government shutdown.

They happened because, from the waste of a trillion dollars on a stimulus that didn’t stimulate, to the hyper-regulatory Dodd-Frank financial overhaul that preserved “too big to fail,” to the more-hated-by-the-day ObamaCare, this president’s Big Government ways are keeping America down.

The budget deal failed to stop the train wreck that is ObamaCare, ignored the nation’s entitlement crisis and kicked the debt can down the road. But lawmakers did manage to take care of their own.

President Obama insisted throughout the budget showdown that he wouldn’t negotiate over reopening the government or the debt ceiling. He said he’d accept nothing more than a “clean bill.”

Clean, apparently, is in the eye of the beholder in Washington. The debt deal Obama signed did reopen the government and suspend the debt ceiling entirely until early February.

But the bill included several sweetheart deals. While modest compared to the normal sort of federal pork, it nevertheless shows where lawmakers’ priorities are.

Among other provisions, this “clean” debt bill:

• Adds $2 billion for construction work on the Olmsted Locks and Dam on the lower part of the Ohio River. That’s an increase of 276% over what had been appropriated for this project. By an odd coincidence, much of this money will be spent in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state. The Senate Conservatives Fund dubbed it the “Kentucky Kickback.”

• Hands $174,000 over to Bonnie Englebardt, widow of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Never mind that she’d been married to Lautenberg for just nine years when he died, or that it was his second marriage, or that Lautenberg’s net worth was upwards of $116 million when he died.

• Promises federal workers a 1% raise starting in January, in addition to providing back pay for the two weeks they were off due to the shutdown. Too bad for all those private sector workers who will see their pay and hours cut next year thanks to ObamaCare.

• Gives the Transportation Department $450 million more to repair flood-damaged roads in Colorado.

• Devotes $3.1 million for a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. This board, unfortunately, has nothing to do with protecting Americans from ObamaCare’s violations of privacy and civil liberties. It’s meant to ensure that federal anti-terrorism efforts don’t cause discomfort to anyone at home.

Meanwhile, the deal left ObamaCare alone, except for one meaningless tweak, and did nothing to rein in the other runaway entitlement programs. Worse, it totally ignored the nation’s long-term debt crisis.

Obama might consider all this a victory. But the country is the poorer as a result.(IBD)

But whenever the president rehearses the ‘parade of awfuls’ that befell the country due to the temporary shutdown, remember this: Under orders from Harry Reid, Obama refused to negotiate with Republicans to prevent the shutdown from beginning, and threatened to veto virtually every single Republican bill that would have ended the standoff or mitigated its impact. He bears much responsibility for what just happened. He’s the President of the United States, not a helpless bystander who floats above the DC morass. He is DC.

The mini lecture about civility and name-calling was simply precious. During the showdown, a top Obama spokesman called Republicans suicide bombers, arsonists and kidnappers (and their favorite: “Hostage takers”)…in the span of a single interview. The invective hurled at Republicans by Democrats far outweighed anything elected Republicans said about Democrats. (Townhall)

But at least THEY got theirs. The elites got what they wanted. And it’s the “other guy’s fault”.

Big Government is good. Bigger Government is Better.

And that’s what matters in the end.

So they’ll demand Government fix it and we can propose EVEN MORE government as the solution!!!

The Secret Pork

Then Speaker of The House Pelosi: “[W]e have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

Now that someone is opening this can of compressed worms, the stink bugs are escaping too.

Investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee have discovered that a little-known provision in the national health care law has allowed the federal government to pay nearly $2 billion to unions, state public employee systems, and big corporations to subsidize health coverage costs for early retirees.  At the current rate of payment, the $5 billion appropriated for the program could be exhausted well before it is set to expire.

It’s a waiver slush fund BUILT INTO the Law. Gee, now that’s confidence in your legislation.

Unless, of course, the ultimate goal was not “to insure everyone”. 🙂

The discovery came on the eve of an oversight hearing focused on the workings of an obscure agency known as CCIO — the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.  CCIO, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, oversees the implementation of Section 1102 of the Affordable Care Act, which created something called the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.  The legislation called for the program to spend a total of $5 billion, beginning in June 2010 — shortly after Obamacare was passed — and ending on January 1, 2014, as the system of national health care exchanges was scheduled to go into effect.

The idea was to subsidize unions, states, and companies that had made commitments to provide health insurance for workers who retired early —  between the ages of 55 and 64, before they were eligible for Medicare. According to a new report prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services, “People in the early retiree age group…often face difficulties obtaining insurance in the individual market because of age or chronic conditions that make coverage unaffordable or inaccessible.”  As a result, fewer and fewer organizations have been offering coverage to early retirees; the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program was designed to subsidize such coverage until the creation of Obamacare’s health-care exchanges.

The program began making payouts on June 1, 2010.  Between that date and the end of 2010, it paid out about $535 million dollars.  But according to the new report, the rate of spending has since increased dramatically, to about $1.3 billion just for the first two and a half months of this year. At that rate, it could burn through the entire $5 billion appropriation as early as 2012.

Where is the money going?  According to the new report, the biggest single recipient of an early-retiree bailout is the United Auto Workers, which has so far received $206,798,086.  Other big recipients include AT&T, which received $140,022,949, and Verizon, which received $91,702,538.  General Electric, in the news recently for not paying any U.S. taxes last year, received $36,607,818.  General Motors, recipient of a massive government bailout, received $19,002,669.

The program also paid large sums of money to state governments.  The Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio received $70,557,764; the Teacher Retirement System of Texas received $68,074,118; the California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS, received $57,834,267; the Georgia Department of Community Health received $57,936,127; and the state of New York received $47,869,044.  Other states received lesser but still substantial sums.

But payments to individual states were dwarfed by the payout to the auto workers union, which received more than the states of New York, California, and Texas combined.  Other unions also received government funds, including the United Food and Commercial Workers, the United Mine Workers, and the Teamsters.

And Unions make the the majority of people getting the over 1,000 waivers from ObamaCare.

The UAW, which ended up with a majority share of Chrysler (and much of GM) stock after it went bankrupt – they were paid before bond and shareholders – made out like bandits but The Democrats felt the need to pork them anyhow.

But don’t worry, there’s nothing corrupt going on, that dead fish smell is just your imagination. 😦

Republican investigators count the early-retiree program among those that would never have become law had Democrats allowed more scrutiny of Obamacare at the time it was pushed through the House and Senate.  Since then, Republicans have kept an eye on the program but were not able to pry any information out of the administration until after the GOP won control of the House last November.  Now, finally, they are learning what’s going on.

It comes back to the question: If this law was so fantastic, why all the waivers, cons,pork, and Machiavellian maneuvers to avoid it for your political apparatchiks??

Hmm…. Maybe they they knew that Obamacare, the epitome of socialism, and the redistribution of wealth, does not and cannot work.  It never has and it never will.  This is why they cheat the system.

But since they already have a sense of “entitlement” to everyone else’s money and craving for power that is insatiable I suppose we should expect nothing less.

Now that’s “Winning the Future”. 🙂

“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”–George Orwell

Comedy & Tragedy

At a fundraising dinner after the rally in Minneapolis, Obama was frank with the 100 attendees who paid between $2,500 and $50,000 to attend. (But they aren’t “rich”…)
“I’ve got to admit, Mr. President, sometimes over the last couple of years, with all the negative ads and all the money that’s been pouring in, all the filibustering and obstruction in Congress, sometimes I just start losing altitude, start losing hope,” Obama said. “It just seems like change is so hard to bring about.” (Daily Caller)
What were they serving, Talking Points?  Because this guy swallowed them whole and is now regurgitating them.
And he paid big bucks for the “privilege” of being in the Almighty’s presence and vomiting up Talking Points.
Yikes!!
Speaking of Talking Points:

“Everything was going great and all of a sudden secret money from God knows where – because they won’t disclose it – is pouring in,” Pelosi said.

Obama, who has attacked the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads in the past week or two, did not mention any organizations by name on Saturday but called them “phony front groups.”

“They are pouring millions of dollars through a network of phony front groups, flooding the airwaves with misleading attack ads,” Obama said, reprising his charge that the money from unkown donors is “a threat to our democracy.”

Two Words for you, Mr President: GEORGE SOROS!  🙂

Did you know he gave NPR 1.8 million dollars? Or that the main push to fire Juan Williams was CAIR (The Council on American Islamic Relations) a “civil rights advocacy” group just like the NAACP thinks they are, but for terrorists instead.

No, you probably don’t care.  You’re too busy campaigning for yourself. And your Ministry of Truth Media doesn’t care either.

So how is business going to feel about you after you continue to trash them now, AFTER the election?? Hmmm…

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Funny: http://dailycaller.com/2010/10/24/airplane-director-cuts-ad-poking-fun-at-boxer-for-maam-exchange-with-general/

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FUTURE OBAMACARE UPDATE

The numbers are as startling as tragic. According to the Daily Mail, “Up to 20,000 people have died needlessly early after being denied cancer drugs on the NHS, it was revealed yesterday. The rationing body NICE has failed to keep a promise to make more life-extending drugs available.”

British cancer patients are routinely denied access to critical life-extending drugs because of their costs.

The Telegraph noted two year ago, that the British health care system’s decision to deny patients four kidney cancer drugs on the NHS was denounced by doctors as ‘poor’ and ‘unsuitable’. They said it was a “tragedy” that Britain’s leading role in cancer research was not being translated into treatment for all patients, who were often left struggling to pay for the drugs themselves. The decision has led patients to mortgage their house in order to obtain the drugs and treatment they need to survive.

The occurrences on the other side of the pond are notable not because they are rare, but because they are commonplace. There are no howls of protests from patients who are powerless and are forced to live under the dictates of bureaucrats who make life and death decisions based upon budget constraints and not what’s best for the patients. This is the fundamental basis of government-run health care.

And Americans are perhaps 60 days away from our cancer patients suffering a similar fate.

That’s because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has apparently opened the door to using cost as part of their evaluation process for drugs. The late-stage cancer drug Avastin has been proven effective in extending the life of cancer patients. Rather than testing the safety and efficacy of the drug, the FDA created a new standard that would allow patients who could afford the drug to use it, while those who cannot would be denied their use.

They are considering “de-labeling” the drug for breast cancer patients – essentially allowing Medicare and private insurance to deny coverage of the drug under their policies.

The FDA has moved a final decision about the fate of Avastin and breast cancer patients until after the elections. Not a great sign.

Will the American people accept the bureaucratic dictates that will deny them to a valuable treatment option or will they stand up and say rationing is not the American way? (Townhall)

Ah, the wonders to be had by ObamaCare. But don’t worry, according to the Democrats it’s just “misunderstood” and a “lack of communication”.

In their view, you’re too dumb to understand the wonderment of ObamaCare as demonstrated by it’s Cousin, The NHS.

So re-elect Democrats so they can bring on the Public Option and take complete and total absolute control of who lives and who dies, how and when. At their beck-and-call.

And it will bring down the deficit to boot!!  (yes, they are still touting that Fairy Tale- PA Governor Ed Rendell was touting it mightily on FOX the other night).

Doesn’t that sound like Utopia to you! 😦

A survey by the National Business Group on Health that found that roughly 63% of businesses plan to make their workers pay a higher portion of their health care insurance costs next year.

One might reasonably ask why an entrepreneur would start a new business knowing that once she navigates the usual business risks, negotiates the regulation-burdened, lending-leery Main Street banks, now reluctant to finance a new venture or expansion, and she climbs the trough of the J-curve into profitability, the tax man is hovering to further dampen the business’ prospects.

So you have ObamaCare, Cap-n-Trade, The EPA, a racially-blind Justice dept, and the Democrats wish for the Public Option.

No reason to fear.

The only scenario that can save their businesses is to drop their insurance, pay the penalty and dump their employees onto the government-mandated exchange. Even paying the penalty may push low-profit-margin rural small businesses into the red, forcing them to downsize their work force.

Perhaps the most pernicious of the administration’s tax policy concoctions is the 2011 reinstatement of the death tax. Aged ranchers and farmers contemplate dying this year rather than next, when the tax goes from the current zero rate to a maximum of 55%.

As a result, some intend to discontinue dialysis or other life-extending treatments this fall, going to their graves with the knowledge that they could not cheat death but that they could keep the family ranch in the family.

In agriculture circles, Dec. 31, 2010, is being referred to as “Kevorkian Day” — I kid you not. The president and his departing team of advisers are apparently oblivious to such concerns, advocating for such class-based tax increases in 2011. (REP. CYNTHIA LUMMIS R-WY)

Vote Democrat! Utopia Awaits! 🙂

Political Cartoon by Eric Allie

Keep it Simple

Michael Ramirez Cartoon

Want to get a sense of how serious the Democrats are about listening to the will of the people and not their own ideological wet-dreams?

“Reelect me, keep Democrats on the field. And when we come back next year, maybe we will get to the public option,” Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said during an appearance on the Tom Joyner Morning Show.

2. While posing as campaign finance champions, the ultimate goal of the Democratic offensive is to intimidate conservative donors, chill political free speech and drain Republican coffers.

Chamber of Commerce official Bruce Josten tried to educate the public. “(W)e know what the purpose here is,” he told ABC News. “It’s to harass and intimidate.” Josten cited protests and threats against chamber members as retribution for ads the organization ran opposing the federal health care takeover. (Michelle Malkin)

Moveon.org anyone? (founded and funded  by Foreign Socialist Billionaire George Soros by the way)

3. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House: When asked if she would debate her opponent in a townhall-type meeting she blew them off saying, “Let me tell you what my priorities are. My priorities are to elect a Democratic Congress. In order to do that, it is essential for me – time is money for me. [Traveling] around this country, to amass the resources to put my candidates on TV. Whether I get a bigger majority or not in my district is not the point.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC4xMOwldSk

Good to have your priorities, straight. But then again, she knows the San Francisco uber-liberals would never vote against her no matter what she does (unless she turned into a non-uber-liberal that is). She’s Super-Lib!

The New York Times, a flea market of liberal activism, is chalking up Obama’s decline to the stupidity of the American people. A recent Times editorial put forth: “Insurgent Republicans don’t need details when they can play on the furious emotions of voters who have been misled into believing that positive changes like the health care law are catastrophic failures.”(Bill O’Reilly)

The fact that a solid majority of Americans have been against this monster since the Summer of 2009 makes to no impact on Liberals because they want what they want when they want it and will throw a giant hissy fit if they don’t get it or someone threatens to take their toys away.

It’s that simple.

By Victor Davis Hanson: We will learn in November just how angry the public is about a lot of things, from higher taxes to massive unemployment.

But the popular uproar pales in comparison to the sense of humiliation that we Americans are quite broke. In 2008, the public was furious at George W. Bush, not because he was too much of a right-wing tightwad, but because he ran up a series of what were then thought to be gargantuan deficits. The result was that under a supposedly conservative administration, and despite six years of an allegedly small-government Republican Congress, the deficit nearly doubled from $3.3 trillion to $6.3 trillion in just eight years.

Barack Obama apparently never figured out that he had been elected in part because that massive Republican borrowing had sickened the American people. So in near-suicidal fashion, he took Bush’s last scheduled budget deficit of more than $500 billion — in a Keynesian attempt to get the country out of the 2008 recession and financial panic — and nearly tripled it by 2010. Obama’s new red ink will add more than $2.5 trillion to the national debt — with near-trillion-dollar yearly deficits scheduled for the next decade. All of that will result in a U.S. debt of more than $20 trillion.

What exactly is it about big deficits and our accumulated debt that is starting to enrage voters?

First, the public is tired of the nonchalant way that smarmy public officials take credit for dishing out someone else’s cash without a thought of paying for it. Each week, President Obama promises another interest group more freshly borrowed billions, now euphemistically called “stimulus.” But the more public money he hands out to states, public employees, the unemployed or the green industry, the more voters wonder where in the world he’s getting the cash. The next time a public official puts his name on yet another earmarked federal project, let him at least confess whether it was floated with borrowed money.

Second, there is a growing sense of despair that even vastly increased income taxes cannot cover the colossal shortfalls. At least the old Clinton tax rates of the 1990s balanced the budget. But should we bring them back, we would still run a deficit of more than $1 trillion in 2011 — given the vast increases in federal spending.

That bleak reality creates hopelessness — and anger — among voters, who feel they are being taken for fools by their elected officials. The public opposes tax hikes not because they don’t wish to pay down the debt, but because they suspect the increased revenue will simply be a green light for even greater deficit spending.

Third, it does no good for Beltway technocrats to explain how deficits are good at “stimulating” the economy, or why they do not really have to be paid back. Voters know that such gibberish does not apply to their own mortgages and credit card bills.

Voters feel relieved when they can pay off debt and become chronically depressed when they cannot. When the government last balanced the budget in 2000 under the Clinton administration and the Republican Congress, the country collectively experienced as much of a psychological high as it is now collectively experiencing humiliation over being ridiculed as a spendthrift borrower.

So national reputation and sense of self also matter. Americans are tired of hearing about inevitable Chinese ascendency and American decline. They know China is still in many ways a repressive developing country facing huge political, environmental and demographic challenges. But Americans also concede that China’s huge budget and trade surpluses result in trillions of dollars in cash reserves — and hence global clout, world respect and a promising future that seems not likewise true of spend now/pay later America.

Fourth, there is real fear that something terrible will soon come from this unsustainable level of spending. Interest rates are at historic lows. But if they should rise, just servicing the current debt would cost even more hundreds of billions in borrowed dollars. Soon, we will face a bleak choice of either slashing national defense or Social Security — or both — just when the nation is graying and the world is becoming more dangerous than ever. Will the Chinese lend us the money to deploy an aircraft carrier off their coast, or finance new American health-care entitlements that they cannot afford for 400 million of their own people?

In this upcoming election, all the old political pluses — years of incumbency, entrenched seniority and pork-barrel earmarks — are proving to be liabilities. Instead, the more public officials admit to being in control when trillions of dollars were run up, the more Americans want them gone.

We are humiliated by what we owe. If we cannot pay it back, we’ll at least want political payback.

It’s that simple this year.

But it’s really hard to blame the Democrats for such childish behavior. After all, would you want to run on their record?

Political Cartoon by Chip Bok

Do you want Fries with your McBribe?

Political Cartoon by Lisa Benson

I doubt the Ministry of Truth will be too happy to report this story.

Remember during the Health Care Debate this was ll about the poor, low wage person who had no health insurance and that the evil company they worked for had to be forced by the employer mandate to be “fair”??

“It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don’t. And it will lower the cost of health care for our families, our businesses, and our government”-President Barack Obama

Remember the threats from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius to insurers to not blame ObamaCare for Rate increases?

Sept 30th, Wall Street Journal: McDonald’s Corp. has warned federal regulators that it could drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul.

Last week, a senior McDonald’s official informed the Department of Health and Human Services that the restaurant chain’s insurer won’t meet a 2011 requirement to spend at least 80% to 85% of its premium revenue on medical care.

McDonald’s and trade groups say the percentage, called a medical loss ratio, is unrealistic for mini-med plans because of high administrative costs owing to frequent worker turnover, combined with relatively low spending on claims.

Democrats who drafted the health law wanted the requirement to prevent insurers from spending too much on executive salaries, marketing and other costs that they said don’t directly help patients. (Feel good economics :))

McDonald’s move is the latest indication of possible unintended consequences from the health overhaul. Dozens of companies have taken charges against earnings—totaling more than $1 billion—over a tax change in prescription-drug benefits for retirees.

So the evil corporate exploiter of low income people had insurance for it’s workers but said they were thinking of dropping it because ObamaCare was going to be too expensive.

The Obama Administration immediately jumped on it : The White House pushed back hard with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Jessica Santillo claiming: “This story is wrong. The new law provides significant flexibility to maintain coverage for workers.”

Then was a rumor of a back room deal. The Obama Administration denied it.

Well, guess what…

The federal government has granted 30 companies and organizations one-year waivers to exempt them from one of the newly-implemented health care reforms.

Guess who’s one of them?  McDonalds. Gee, that only took a week!! 🙂

And it’s a one Year waiver, guess what next year is– Obama’s Re-Election campaign.

Anyone see more waivers and extension coming?? 🙂

I guess that was “fair”. Some workers are now more “fair” than others. 🙂

And after all, it was such a great plan to begin with. 🙂

Waiver list: http://www.hhs.gov/ociio/regulations/patient/appapps.html

The biggest single waiver, for 351,000 people, was for the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund, a New York union providing coverage for city teachers.

Gee, I thought they were Obama’s Apparatchiks. I guess they didn’t get their bailout money (or maybe they did but turned it around and feed the Democrats Re-election campaigns instead) :).

So Obama is kissing up to his Union apparatchiks AGAIN!

At least one was a Health Insurance Company: CIGNA.

The irony I’m sure is lost on the Ministry of Truth.

So how many more waivers are to come? Leaving guess who, to hold the bag?

YOU!!

Rejoice. That’s your Hope & Change for you. Aren’t you happy? 🙂

But what’s funnier is all that nashing of teeth and all that rhethoric for nearly two years about non-one losing coverages…

Without the waivers, companies would have had to provide a minimum of $750,000 in coverage next year, increasing to $1.25 million in 2012, $2 million in 2013, and unlimited coverage in 2014.

“The big political issue here is the president promised no one would lose the coverage they’ve got,” Robert Laszewski, chief executive officer of consulting company Health Policy and Strategy Associates, said by telephone. “Here we are a month before the election, and these companies represent 1 million people who would lose the coverage they’ve got.”(Bloomberg)

And the Spin:

“The waivers are about insuring people and protecting the coverage they have until there are better options available to them in 2014,” White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs said today.

Meaning, we’ll cover we’ll exempt you from ObamaCare until 2014 when you’ll drop them anyhow and then the taxpayers will have to pay for them anyhow through the government run health care. Isn’t that peachy! 🙂

The bulk of the new health care reforms will go into effect in 2014. At that point, some large employers that drop coverage for their workers will be subject to a fee. Consumers will also have the option of using new state-based health care exchanges to access the individual health care market.

By 2014, insurers will be completely barred from limiting annual benefits. The new regulations are being phased in until then: companies without waivers will have to provide a minimum of $750,000 in coverage next year, $1.25 million in coverage in 2012, and $2 million in 2013.

“HHS is to committed strengthening employer-based coverage for employees and retirees, while building a bridge to a new competitive marketplace in 2014,” HHS spokesperson Jessica Santillo said.

The waiver granted to the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund will have the biggest impact in terms of numbers, applying to 351,000 enrollees of the Fund’s supplemental insurance plan. McDonald’s insurance carrier, BCS Insurance, received a waiver to cover 115,000 enrollees.

Gibbs said today that the White House does not perceive the need to grant the waivers as a flaw of the new health care reforms.

“This is about implementing a bill correctly,” he said, to ensure that “as reform ramps up, we protect consumers and don’t put them at the mercy of health insurance companies.”

Gee, I thought that was what ObamaCare was supposed to do right out of the gate, not in 2014. 🙂

Oh, that’s right, you don’t want the young, poor, future socialist voters to get mad at you right now. Not to mention your Union apparatchiks.

So what if it’s a bribe. So what if it’s no longer “universal” and for “everyone”.

So now that  the “fair” playing field and “everyone” is covered is out the window.

You will be stuck with the check.

Doesn’t that just make you want to vote for the Democrats! 🙂

Political Cartoon by Chuck Asay

Sleep Tight. Don’t let the IRS bite. 🙂

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.