Cut!

Raise the cost of something, and inevitably demand for that thing goes down. It’s a venerable principle in economics.

So five years ago when ObamaCare was being enacted, we and many others warned that its coverage mandates for employers would result in hours being cut back and workers being laid off. We were criticized at the time as Chicken Littles. Now comes a survey of 743 personnel executives by the Society of Human Resource Management, as reported by Robert King of the Washington Examiner, that shows businesses are doing just that. Nearly 14% of firms have cut part-time hours for workers, King wrote, and another 6% plan to do so.

Still worse, 5% of companies have already either cut or plan to cut the total number of workers they have, thanks to ObamaCare.

ObamaCare’s employer mandate requires businesses with 100 or more employees to provide health insurance to 70% of their workers who put in 30 or more hours a week. That goes up to 95% next year.

Meanwhile, small businesses with 50 to 99 workers will start feeling the pinch in 2016, when the mandate hits them, too.

So it’s only logical: Businesses are cutting hours to avoid having to pay for the mandate — a predictable response in the real world, but apparently not in the world of the economists, politicians and planners who concocted ObamaCare’s destructive rules.

As for “bending the cost-curve down,” as President Obama promised repeatedly, forget about it. The survey found that 77% of companies had higher health-care costs this year than last year, and just 6% saw their costs decrease. For those who had costs rise, 24% saw costs go up 16% or more.

If you want to know why this job recovery has been the worst since the Great Depression, you need look no further than these depressing statistics.

In September 2009, President Obama addressed Congress, vowing that his healthcare plan would “slow the growth of healthcare costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.” But costs for all three have actually grown.

During the campaign in 2008, Obama repeatedly said that his health reform plan would save the average family $2,500 a year in premiums. But this year, almost half of those surveyed by CBS and the New York Times characterized “the affordability of basic medical care as a hardship.” That’s a quarter more people than said so last year.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, the New York Times, and Avalere Health crunched government numbers and concluded that even premiums for coverage offered on the exchanges would rise between 2 and 5% during 2015.

Meanwhile, a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research determined that premiums in the non-group market in 2014 increased by 24.4% over what they would have cost without Obamacare.

Costs for small businesses have also grown. Last year, the average cost of employer-sponsored health insurance for an individual exceeded $5,700. That’s 23% more than in 2009, the year before Obamacare was signed into law.

One in 10 businesses has laid off workers to cope with growing healthcare costs. And “one-third of small firms say they are purposefully not growing as a result of the Affordable Care Act,” according to a National Small Business Association Survey.

Meanwhile, one in five companies has reduced employee hours to avoid falling afoul of Obamacare’s employer mandate, which requires companies with 100 or more employees who work more than 30 hours a week to provide health insurance this year. Next year, companies with 50 or more workers will be subject to the mandate.

Companies who fail to comply must pay fines of the lesser of $3,000 per employee who receives subsidies in Obamacare’s insurance exchanges or $2,000 for every worker after the first 30.

The cost of Obamacare has also grown dramatically for the government — and thus for taxpayers. In 2009, President Obama claimed that his plan would cost a little more than $900 billion over the next decade. But according to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office, the law’s net price tag has ballooned to nearly $1.2 trillion.

The law’s ballooning cost is largely the result of its failure to slow overall health spending. Nationwide, health spending grew 5% in 2014, compared to a 3.6% increase the year prior, according to a new report from Altarum Institute. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services forecast spending to grow by 6% a year from 2015 through 2023 — “largely as a result of the continued implementation of the ACA coverage expansions.”

To make matters worse, the health law has also failed to deliver “the best care, not just the most expensive care,” as the President promised in 2009. Under Obamacare, Americans now have fewer healthcare options than before.

The number of insurers selling to individual consumers in the exchanges has dropped by more than 20% compared to the year before Obamacare took effect, according to the Heritage Foundation. Consumers who buy coverage on the exchanges often find that their preferred hospitals are out of network, McKinsey & Co. reports.

Meanwhile, Deloitte surveyed 20,000 doctors and discovered that many are cutting their work hours or leaving the practice of medicine altogether. USA TODAY recently reported that many doctors are limiting their intake of patients who bought coverage on the exchanges; the reimbursement rates offered by their policies are just too low.

“Physicians who are in solo practices have to be careful not to take too many patients reimbursed at lower rates or they’re not going to be in business too long,” said the President of the Medical Society of the State of New York.

For patients, this exodus of doctors translates into less access, longer waits before appointments, and less one-on-one time with the few doctors who will see them. Last year, patients had to wait an average of 18 days for appointments with specialty doctors. This waiting game is “going to get worse and not better,” according to a study from consultancy Merritt Hawkins.

But since it “felt good” and they “had the best of intentions” and it’s all the fault of evil insurance companies the Liberal won’t hold themselves responsible for making things much worse than if they hadn’t meddled in the first place.

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The Battle Begins Anew

A Little From our Post Traumatic Image is Everything First (Constitution Second) Conscious Chief Justice:

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts joked that he’ll spend some time on an “impregnable island fortress” now that the court has ended a session that featured him casting the decisive vote to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Responding to a question about his summer break, Roberts said he planned to teach a class for two weeks in Malta, the Mediterranean island nation.

“Malta, as you know, is an impregnable island fortress. It seemed like a good idea,” Roberts said, drawing laughter from about 300 judges, attorneys and others attending a four-day conference Friday at a posh southwestern Pennsylvania resort.

The only direct question Roberts got about the health care opinion came when those at the conference were invited to ask questions.

That’s when Roberts was asked what he thought his court’s legacy would be in 50 years and “how one recent opinion might fit into that” – an obvious reference to the health care decision.

“Well, I won’t answer anything that has to do with the second part of that,” Roberts said. But he said he hopes that the court under him is remembered as one that “did our job according to the Constitution, of protecting equal justice under the law.”

Lamberth hinted at the controversial decision when he asked Roberts if it bothered him that he can’t respond to his critics.

“No,” Roberts said, his brief answer hanging in the air to more laughter.(AP)

Public opposition to the health care law remains high. Forty-seven percent of respondents in a recent Associated Press-GfK poll said they oppose the law while 33 percent said they support it. Thirteen percent said they are neutral. Those who strongly oppose the legislation also outnumber those who strongly support it, 32 percent to 17 percent, about a 2-to-1 margin.

Critical to both parties, just 21 percent of independents support it, the lowest level of support the AP-GfK poll has recorded on the issue. (AP)

But here comes the old fearmongering and division that Liberals are so congenitally wired for:

“Now the American people are going to say, `Now what’s in that for me?'” Harkin said. “As long as Democrats are willing to go out there and positively say, `Look, now you are guaranteed that you will get affordable health insurance if you had breast cancer in the past … preventive care, free mammograms. … And they (Republicans) want to take it away from you. You have it now and they want to take it away from you. If you want it taken away from you, you just go ahead and vote for them.'” (AP)

So…

Republicans also used the ruling to craft a new attack line. Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion said the law’s requirement that Americans purchase health care is a tax, which Republicans argued contradicted Obama and Democrats who insist they aren’t raising taxes on the poor and middle class.

“The court blew the president’s cover,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

The tax debate will be at the forefront when the House votes the week of July 9 to overturn the law, a largely symbolic step with a Democratic-controlled Senate but one that will put Democrats and Republicans on record and provide fodder for the campaign.

Because guess what, IT’S A TAX!  The Supreme Court says so!!

And who will get it in the shorts the  most– why the middle class and the poor!! Will the Democrats tell them that? Nope. It’s all Fear, Loathing, and Me-Generation Greed.

The Battle begins again.

The medical overhaul is also a choice killer. Many will recall Obama promising that under his plan, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period.”

Those aren’t the facts.

As we reported in April, the CBO estimates that as many as 20 million Americans will be forced out of their plans as employers toss workers into government health exchanges to avoid ObamaCare’s costs.

A survey by McKinsey and Co. found that nearly one-third of employers will likely to drop coverage for their workers once ObamaCare kicks in.

And an analysis by the Medicare actuary found that ObamaCare’s attacks on Medicare’s private insurance options will force nearly 8 million seniors out of the coverage they’ve chosen.

• Consumer costs will rise. CBO says premiums will increase over the next decade faster than they did in the past five years.

• The Affordable Care Act is just the beginning. It’s the door to a single-payer government system run by a DMV-type bureaucracy.

• The quality of care will suffer. The Democrats’ law will chill the incentives to become a doctor, to create innovative drugs and to produce live-saving and life-enhancing medical equipment.

• Don’t be surprised when treatment is rationed by government. As it takes over a larger portion of health care — it already controls nearly half — resources won’t be able to keep up with demand. Somebody wins, somebody loses based on someone else’s whim. (IBD)

But don’t worry, the Democrats will just focus on fear, intimidation, and “mean” old Republicans who want to throw grandma off a cliff and you to “just die” as former Rep. Grayson once said on the House floor.

Meanwhile, the Democrats WILL tax you to death and give you 2nd-3rd world care (unless you are “rich” that is) but it won’t be their fault. 🙂

And if you increase demand but they supply doesn’t increase or even decreases then what happens? Hmmm….

And it all points to a single solution: Repeal the law before it takes deep root, and replace it with policies that put the patient in charge.

“What has happened in this system for too long is that the patient has kind of been second or third in line behind everybody else,” Ed Haislmaier health policy worker for the Heritage Foundation says.

And then he made a good point on why Democrats may be opposed to it if they get their ideological heads out of their asses:

Critics of the mandate say Republicans and Democrats alike oppose it.

“Republicans are against it because they see it as an impingement on their personal freedom,” says Ed Haislmaier, who works on healthcare policy at the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation in Washington. “The Democrats are against it because they don’t like health insurance companies in the first place, and they don’t like to be told they have to go buy from someone they don’t like.(VOA)

And I would add, make them aware of how much everything costs because this is far from “free healthcare”.

Yahoo question from the public at large: Since conservatives are so greedy, I am surprised they would oppose Free.

Need I say more? 🙂

How about From a UK message board: congratualations {sp} USA on your free healthcare – now you can do something about your obesity and retardation.

The Bright Spot from the perspective of damage and ability to provide clarity on what this really means:

Because the one ”bright spot” of the ruling was on the matter of Medicaid expansion.

Medicaid is the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor, in which both governments split the cost. ObamaCare mandated states accept more federal money and expand eligibility to ensnare a larger number of Americans in this dismal government-run plan. But along with that mandate for the states to spend hundreds of millions more than they can afford, the law included a penalty for states that didn’t expand the Medicaid eligibility – the loss of all federal Medicaid money. Essentially it was a choice between spending more money that states don’t have or receiving no federal money, yet still being obligated to provide Medicaid.

The Supreme Court rejected that provision. It said states can be offered the option but can’t be forced to accept the expansion money, nor to extend Medicaid to people who don’t currently qualify. Given many states are going broke now, and Medicaid is their largest expenditure already, it’s highly doubtful many will spend more on this program.

So, given Medicaid was a key component to extending coverage to all Americans under ObamaCare, and given it’s now dead or at least an unlikely option, the uninsured near-poor – the people this whole mess was designed to help – won’t be getting Medicaid. Since they also probably won’t soon earn enough to buy insurance on their own, they finish right where they started – in no-man’s land.

Middle-class Americans without insurance will have to pay an Obama Tax that will grow with each passing year. The near-poor were exempted from the tax, but they won’t get insurance either.

Given the ease – relative to the rest of the world – with which Americans can move up the economic ladder, many will work at jobs that can’t afford to provide insurance under ObamaCare and are too small to be required to provide it. But those jobs will pay enough so employees eventually will qualify for the Obama Tax. So, just as these near-poor approach some semblance of economic security, the IRS (which Obamacare empowered to enforce the Obama Tax) will be right there to whack them back down.

Therefore, and not for the first time, the people ObamaCare was supposed to help will be hurt the most.

Middle-class families also will take a hit.

Most Americans work for small businesses. The law requires businesses with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance or pay a fine. Since ObamaCare forces insurance companies to accept everyone with pre-existing conditions – which is like requiring car insurance companies to insure cars after their owners have wrapped them around a tree – premiums will skyrocket. Companies quickly will notice it’s easier to simply pay the fine. This means a new group of uninsured Americans.

If the slight bump in pay doesn’t permit them to afford insurance, they will be hit with the Obama Tax. (And for those of you keeping score at home, they make significantly less than the $250,000 per year the President promised to never, ever raise taxes on. “Read my lips!” anyone?)

The government doesn’t care about your expenses. It doesn’t care about your kids in private school, your mortgage or student loans or the relatives you’re trying to help through a bad time. It doesn’t care how or really even whether you make ends meet as the Obama Recession rolls into another year. It sees you as a number – the number of dollars you make, whether you make enough to buy insurance according to its formula.

Don’t believe me? Try discussing with a bureaucrat anything you owe government on any level and see if you can appeal to their mercy. You might get a traffic fine reduced occasionally if you catch the right bureaucrat on the right day. But the IRS deals with tens of millions of people over hundreds of billions of dollars. Bureaucracies are not in the mercy business.

So now that Obamacare has morphed into a tax on staying alive, it will become yet another liberal “well-intentioned” attempt to “strengthen the social safety net” that ends up functioning more like a spider web that ensnares people in the life it was supposed to help them escape.

It also forces the health insurance market into a bastardized market that threatens its very existence. It will cause many insurers to fail, which will lead to consolidation, concentration and ultimately corporate welfare. Or the government will step in, take over the entire market and give us the American version of Britain’s detestable National Health Service, which is something Democrats have been working towards for decades. Either way, government wins and we – all of us – lose.

Of course none of these taxes and insurance drops will take effect for these impacted people until after the election, which was by design. Costing people you need to vote for you more before they vote is fool’s errand, a lesson Barack Obama learned from President George H.W. Bush. But once he no longer need their vote, ever, for the rest of his life…lookout.

Did we reject a tyranny 236 years ago to gradually create our own without the accent and powdered wig? Did we replace “No taxation without representation” with “Taxation through misrepresentation”? As you celebrate our nation’s independence this week, commit yourself to talk to as many people as you can about how we’ve lost that which we are celebrating and how November is our next, and maybe our only, chance to declare it again. (Derek Hunter)

Time for a more literal TEA PARTY revolution against our Would-be King. And time to re-instill freedom into this great land.

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne


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.