Tag Archives: health care

12 Obamacare Quotes Showing US Healthcare Headed For Disaster

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Michael Snyder, Contributor
Activist Post

You might as well stick a fork in the U.S. healthcare system because it is done. Even before Obamacare, Americans paid far more for healthcare than anyone else in the world.

Now thanks to Obamacare we will be faced with much higher health insurance premiums, much higher taxes, much longer waits to see doctors and more government bureaucrats involved in our lives than ever before.

 

As I have written about previously, the U.S. healthcare industry is a horrible mess, and now Obamacare is going to take the entire system directly into the toilet. All over America today, families are going broke because of outrageous health insurance costs and suffocating medical debt, doctors are going broke and leaving the profession because they can’t make a living, and sick people are dying because they cannot get the care that they need.

 

So what solution does Obama give us? A nearly 3,000 page monstrosity that will destroy what is left of our crumbling healthcare system and that will unleash 16,000 new IRS agents to hunt down the millions of Americans that do not currently have health insurance. For those that love Big Brother socialist totalitarianism, Obamacare is a dream come true. For the rest of us it is a total nightmare.

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Good News & Bad News For Idaho

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Yesterday and today were monumental days in legislative hearings.

First the good news.

This morning the House State Affairs committee passed the Nullification bill out of committee with a vote recommendation of DO PASS to the floor.

it was a 14 to 5 against vote

You should be aware that Rep. Eric Anderson from District 1 in Boundary / Bonner Counties voted against the bill and he was the only Republican that sided with the Democrats which were all against it.

Now the bad news and the urgent

request for help.

Please take some time and write a letter or send and email to every member of the House.  Time is critical.  It could be on the House floor by this Friday (today).

The House Jud & Rules committee voted to pass out of committee HB-111  Giving Indian tribes in the State unchecked  Idaho state police powers, leaving open the ability of the tribes to use their tribal court system in which non tribal citizens have zero chance of due process and guaranteed protections under our laws.

Despite the fact that the Sheriffs Assn. as a body opposed this. the Assn. Counties opposed this, and the Prosecutors Assn. which was still on record from last year Opposed this. Disregarding the factual testimony against this, instead choosing in favor of false and misleading statements, they still passed it out of committee with a DO PASS recommendation.   These governmental bodies represented tens of thousands of Idaho citizens,  This bill is for one tribe only, the Coeur d’Alene tribe, and is against one county and its citizens which dared to stand up and tell the tribe to stop abusing our rights,  We refused to submit and acquiesce to their iron fisted tactics against non tribal people of Idaho and our visitors.

If this passes into law there is and never will be any incentive for a tribe to negotiate, they will have proven that they can buy the rights of the people and the political will of its elected government.

When do these legislators think that our constitutional civil rights apply to all citizens?  Why is it that a small group whose entire membership is based on race, that are afforded special privileges and opportunities that are not afforded to all. A wealthy select group that uses our own governmental body, of whom the do not recognize as having any authority over them, to strip us of being able to determine what is right for our communities?

When can we the people ever say NO?   When the answer is never as it is in this legislation, my friends you have the perfect definition of communism and tyranny!

They have sold our civil and constitutional rights to have a representative government,  They gave our voice no credence what so ever.  There is no recourse when the tribe resumes their systematic shakedowns and abuses of non tribal citizens.

What this committee has done is sold Benewah county and its ability to determine what is right for them to the highest bidder.  It is as if we have been shackled and have duct tape over our mouths and we sat watching helplessly as our rights to say no to abuse and aggression were sold as if a slave on the auction block.

I asked Matt Shay less than two weeks ago when is the right time to resist with more than just talk,  His reply to all of in CDA that day “was when they come for your neighbors stuff”.

Folks I can think of no other “stuff” more valuable to all of us that the right to self determination, to say no to abuses, to revere and preserve our civil and Constitutional rights.

The citizen’s of Benewah County and all of the citizenry of Idaho that dares to use state highways and county roads that happen to pass through an Indian reservation have just had their “stuff’ taken from them.

Please we plead with you to rise up stand

with us and not let this happen to Benewah

County and all of Idaho.  We must kill this

on the Floor of the House or we will have

lost the ability to stop it.

Here are the 9 members of that committee that worked so hard to strip us of our unalienable rights as enumerated in the US and Idaho Constitutions, and our civil rights in US Law.

Grant Burgoyne (D) Dist. 16 Boise   (Received $1500.00 from the CDA tribe in 2010, was the main voice and mover and shaker to put this out onto the floor with a do pass recommendation)
Wendy Jaquet (D) Dist 25 Ketchum  (Received $750.00 FROM CDA and Sho/Ban tribes.)
Bill Killen (D) Dist 17 Ada  (Received $1000.00 from CDA tribe in 2010.)

Republican Hall of Shame
The top dollar award for our being sold out by  a Republican is Mack Shirley Dist 34, Rexburg  He got $750.00 from the tribes.

The top winner for new freshman of this distinction is Kathleen Sims from Dist 4 CDA.  She took $500.00 from the CDA tribe, and Also took money from conservatives.  She did not vote for Conservative values. Contact her conservative contributors and let them know how you fell.  Ken Roberts, House Majority Caucus Leader, Wayne Hoffman – Idaho Freedom Foundation, Kelso Starr CDA Atty.

The following list are new Republican freshman legislators who were not expected to win and were wild cards,  They did not receive and money in 2010, but based on the past history of the tribe compensating their friends after HB 500 hearing last spring 2010 I suspect that soon they will have sizable donation sent to their campaign funds.

Christy Perry Dist 13 Nampa  She commented several times she knew what was best for the people, apparently more than the people do.
Linden Bateman Dist 33 Idaho Falls
Julie Ellsworth  Dist 18 Boise

The chairman Rich Wills received the highest amount is all the House and Senate.  A whopping $1750.00 (1500.00 of that from the CDA tribe)  He as chairman allowed a full hour to the tribes Lobbyist Bill Roden and the tribes undeclared lobbyist Helo Hancock to pitch this bill.  At the end to wrap up Bill Roden was to have 3 mins and the Chair gave him 15 min.  He stripped the ability of our sheriff the ability to really give concrete examples of what is and has been happening.  By his rules our sheriff was forced to strike out 3/4 of what needed to be told.  You can see which side he was on

I can here the tribal lobby saying “well done our good and faithful servants”.

It shows a distinct pattern of political influence garnering through a persuasive green machine.  Idaho is for sale.  And the tribe has spent $74,770.00 dollars in 2010 alone to our State government elected officials.  The apparent targeted committees are the ones in which they wanted help to get this HB 111 through.

Kootenai County residents-  Your 3 commissioners were all so willing like lap dogs to throw their neighbor under the bus.  Todd Tondee at the last minute (not signed up to testify) stepped at the last moment and told the committee that they thought it was OK to give the tribe what they wanted.  One county who is getting financial perks from the tribe, sells out it neighbors.  Like they are standing guard while the tribe is taking our “stuff”.  Jai Nelson, who ran as a Conservative Republican stated after when asked her opinion that “the tribe wanted it so we should give it them”.  What? that sounds an awful lot like a democrat speaking.  Take notes for the next election cycle.

As the Russian Proverb states ” where money talks, the truth is silenced”.  We have and are seeing it alive and well in Idaho

Thanks for taking the time to write to the House leadership and members to get HB 111 stopped on the house floor.

Obama is “Extraordinarily Proud” of Healthcare

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President Barack Obama, in a wide-ranging, reflective interview with Barbara Walters, staunchly defended his controversial policies — including sweeping health care reforms and the massive economic stimulus package — as bold but necessary steps to help transform an economy that was at the brink of collapse to one that is “growing.” ”The notion that somehow you can only do one thing at once is simply not true,” Obama told Walters in the interview, which aired on ABC Friday evening. “The fact is, that we stabilized the financial system … we turned an economy that was contracting to one that was growing. We have added a million jobs over the last year to the economy.”

 And despite the intense criticism and political costs, the president said the health care overhaul will be “a lasting legacy that I am extraordinarily proud of.”

 The interview covered an array of topics, from North Korea, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2010 midterm elections, family life inside the White House, and outrage over the Transportation Security Administration’s new enhanced airport screening procedures.

Obama said the system — in which passengers must pass through bomb-detection scanners that penetrate clothing, or undergo aggressive pat-downs that some have compared to sexual assault — is “gonna be something that evolves.

“We are gonna have to work on it,” the president said. “I understand people’s frustrations with it, but I also know that if there was an explosion in the air that killed a couple of hundred people … and it turned out that we could have prevented it, possibly … that would be something that would be pretty upsetting to most of us — including me.”

Of his sagging approval ratings, Obama told Walters, “First of all, I’m not so unpopular,” pointing out that his poll numbers are “a little higher” than Bill Clinton’s and Ronald Reagan’s at comparable points in their presidencies.

 The president said he understands that unemployment numbers are “frustrating to people,” and that he isn’t making “any excuses.”

 Still, he said, “We’ve been through tougher times before as a country, and we’ve always come up on top.”

Obama told Walters that in the coming months, he would like to focus on education, research and development, and reducing the deficit.

Obama said he’s looking forward to meeting with Republican leaders next week to discuss a tax-cut extension and is eager to “hear what their ideas are.”

“We need to get this resolved,” he said. “I expect that I don’t end up getting everything I want. I think hopefully they come to the table understanding they’re not going to get everything they want.”

Turning to North Korea, Obama called this week’s incident “one more provocative incident in a series that we’ve seen over the last several months.”

“We want to make sure all the parties in the region recognize that this is a serious and ongoing threat that this has to be dealt with,” he said. “South Korea is our ally. It has been since the Korean War, and we strongly affirm our commitment to defend South Korea as part of that alliance.”

He said he would not speculate on the possibility of military action yet but said the tensions represent “the cornerstone of U.S. security in the Pacific region.”

On ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who lambasted Obama and the media after she was criticized for confusing South Korea and North Korea in an interview, Obama said: “I don’t speculate on what’s going to happen two years from now … What I’m saying is that I don’t think of Sarah Palin.”

The president appeared in the interview with first lady Michelle Obama, who revealed to Walters that she told her husband “let’s get to work” after the so-called “shellacking” Democrats took in the midterm elections.

“I said, ‘Let’s, let’s get to work. There is a lot to do.’ … I think for, for us, it’s always the focus on what we need to get done, the work ahead,” the first lady said in the interview, which was taped on Tuesday at the White House.

Obama said the advice from his wife came after election night — because the first lady had gone to sleep before all the results had come in.

“She goes to sleep early,” he said.

“I go to bed early,” the first lady said with a laugh. ” I can’t stay awake for the returns … I gotta get up, work out. I figured … it was going to be whatever it was going to be the next day. So I did, I did go to sleep.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/45612.html#ixzz16VzynP6f

How Will Mid-Term Elections Effect The Attempts To Repeal Health-Care?

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Even with a broad and historic majority, House Republicans have formidable roadblocks to delivering on a top campaign promise: to repeal or dismantle comprehensive health-care reform.

An outright repeal would have to get past a Democrat-controlled Senate and, more formidably, the Democratic president, who made health-care reform his No. 1 domestic priority earlier this year. Republicans don’t have the two-thirds majority required in both Houses to override a presidential veto.

Yet outright repeal is likely to be the first floor vote – after the vote for speaker – when the new Congress convenes in January.

No legislation more symbolizes what Republicans – and especially the conservative tea party movement – have dubbed the overreach of an out-of-touch majority. It’s a key vote for an insurgent freshman class eager to demonstrate that the 2010 election is producing change Washington.

“The health-care bill that was enacted by the current Congress will kill jobs in America, ruin the best health-care system in the world, and bankrupt our country,” said Rep. John Boehner (R) of Ohio, the presumptive House speaker, at a press briefing with GOP leaders Wednesday morning. “That means that we have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill and replace it with common-sense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance.”

Mr. Boehner, says former GOP majority leader Dick Armey, “will find that the House will repeal it with no less than 20 Democratic votes.” He adds, “Don’t worry about what the Senate does.”

Mr. Armey advised and backed many tea party candidates.

For his part, President Obama is standing firm on the health-care law. “I’m sure this is an issue that will come up in discussions with Republican leadership, but I think we’d be misreading the election if we thought that the American people want to see us for the next two years relitigate arguments that we had over the last two years,” he said at a press briefing Wednesday afternoon.

“If Republicans have ideas for how to improve our health-care system … I’m happy to consider some of those ideas,” he added.

Still, a strong move by Republicans on health care may be essential to sweeten what could be a bitter vote for the new GOP class: raising the national debt limit, now set at $14.9 trillion. Although conservatives campaigned aggressively against a soaring national debt, Mr. Armey predicts that tea party freshmen will back a new debt limit.

“It’s a legacy vote of the irresponsible spending that came before this time. Just in terms of avoiding breakdown, this vote has got to be made,” he adds.

House Democrats may opt to move this item in a lame-duck session, before the new lawmakers arrive.

In their “governing agenda,” House Republican leaders have already committed to repealing the “job killing” health-care law. “Because the new health care law kills jobs, raises taxes, and increases the cost of health care, we will immediately take action to repeal this law,” Republicans promised in their “Pledge to America,” which they released in September.

But they are also proposing that Congress enact elements left out of the Obama health-care law, such as medical liability reforms, the option of purchasing health-care insurance across state lines, and the expansion of health savings accounts.
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States’ Healthcare Suit Will Move Forward

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U.S. states can proceed with a lawsuit seeking to overturn President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare reform law, a Florida judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson had said at a hearing last month that he would block efforts by the Justice Department to dismiss the lawsuit, led by Florida and 19 other states.

“In this order, I have not attempted to determine whether the line between constitutional and extraconstitutional government has been crossed,” Vinson, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, wrote in his ruling.

“I am only saying that … the plaintiffs have at least stated a plausible claim that the line has been crossed,” Vinson said.

Opponents of Obama’s overhaul of the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system have said it violates the Constitution by imposing what they consider unlawful taxes and requiring citizens to obtain healthcare coverage, among other issues.

The suit was originally filed in March by mostly Republican state attorneys general.

The ruling allowing the case to proceed was a setback for Obama, who has made healthcare reform a cornerstone of his agenda and who is struggling to fight off a strong Republican challenge in November 2 mid-term Congressional elections.

Vinson dismissed four of six claims the states brought against the healthcare law but said he saw grounds to proceed on two counts, including one relating to the way critics say it would force huge new spending by state governments.

On the issue of the so-called “individual mandate,” the law’s provision that all Americans obtain healthcare insurance, Vinson said the plaintiffs had “most definitely stated a plausible claim” for their objections.

“The power that the individual mandate seeks to harness is simply without prior precedent,” he said.

The White House said the government expects to prevail.

“We saw this with the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act — constitutional challenges were brought to all three of these monumental pieces of legislation, and all of those challenges failed,” presidential adviser Stephanie Cutter wrote in a blog post.

“VICTORY FOR STATES”

Vinson said the case would continue as scheduled. He had previously set a hearing for December 16.

“This ruling is a victory for the states, small businesses and the American people,” Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said.

“This decision is a recognition that Congress has never gone this far and that the constitutional arguments have real merit,” Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch said.

The challenge being heard by Vinson is one of many against the healthcare law. There is a hearing in Virginia Monday on the merits of a separate suit against the healthcare overhaul.

On October 7, a Michigan District Court judge upheld the portion of the healthcare law requiring Americans to obtain coverage. The Michigan judge, in a ruling noted by Vinson, said Congress had the authority to enact the law under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and therefore could also impose a penalty for those who failed to obtain health insurance.

Apart from Florida, states joining in the lawsuit include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Washington.

Legal analysts say there is a good possibility the matter will reach the U.S. Supreme Court, but most say there is only a slim chance the states would prevail.

(Additional reporting by Maggie Fox, Patricia Zengerle and Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Xavier Briand)
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McDonald’s and 29 other firms get waiver on health care coverage

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By Drew Armstrong, Bloomberg Business News

Nearly a million workers won’t get a consumer protection in the U.S. health reform law meant to cap insurance costs because the government exempted their employers.

Thirty companies and organizations, including McDonald’s (MCD) and Jack in the Box (JACK), won’t be required to raise the minimum annual benefit included in low-cost health plans, which are often used to cover part-time or low-wage employees.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which provided a list of exemptions, said it granted waivers in late September so workers with such plans wouldn’t lose coverage from employers who might choose instead to drop health insurance altogether.

Without 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 in 2014.

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

The United Agricultural Benefit Trust, the California-based cooperative that offers coverage to farm workers, was allowed to exempt 17,347 people. San Diego-based Jack in the Box’s waiver is for 1,130 workers, while McDonald’s asked to excuse 115,000.

The plans will be exempt from rules intended to keep people from having to pay for all their care once they reach a preset coverage cap. McDonald’s, which offers the programs as a way to cover part-time employees, told the Obama administration it might re-evaluate the plans unless it got a waiver.

McDonald’s and Jack in the Box didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The waiver program is intended to provide continuous coverage until 2014, when government-organized marketplaces will offer insurance subsidized by tax credits, says HHS spokeswoman Jessica Santillo.

The regulations would have hit some insurance plans for young adults in the universal coverage program run by the state of Massachusetts. The program, enacted in 2006, has a plan for individuals ages 18 to 26 who can’t get coverage through work, covering about 5,000 people. The waiver obtained by the state “will give us time to implement the transition plan in a manner designed to mitigate premium increases,” says Dick Powers, a spokesman for the state program.

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. The waivers are effective for a year and were granted to insurance plans and companies that showed that employee premiums would rise or that workers would lose coverage without them, Santillo says.
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ObamaCare Promise of No Rationing Broken by FDA

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Posted by Brian Darling

Until recently, the implications of ObamaCare were debated in a vacuum. There were allegations and responses, but no results to support either side. Now that we have entered the implementation phase of ObamaCare, things are becoming more clear. Many of the bold promises that were offered to sell ObamaCare to the American public were not based in reality.

Taxes increases hit Americans next year and, in many states, they are already seeing health insurance rates increase as a result of ObamaCare. In addition to the Obama Administration promising that insurance rates would not go up, they have also promised that rationing of care would not happen. But bad things seems to be happening sooner than expected and contrary to explicit promises of this Administration.

This past August, an advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration recommended that the late stage cancer drug Avastin be “de-labeled” because of cost considerations. It is critical to note, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not propose denying cancer victims the right to the drug because of the safety of the drug, but because of a formula containing cost as factor.

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) has taken a leadership position on the issue and has written letters to the FDA and expressing concern about “cost rationing.” Senator Vitter is worried that the Avastin case will be the beginning of ObamaCare rationing for drugs that may extend life. Rationing for seriously ill patients based on cost.

Should the FDA agree with the advisory panel’s recommendation, private insurers and Medicare will drop coverage for the drug for breast cancer patients, despite the fact that the drug extends life for an average of six months. This is a classic example of why many conservatives are concerned about government run health care.

By using cost as a factor in their decision-making, the FDA has begun the implementation of ObamaCare and breast cancer patients may be its first victim. Politically, this is another disaster for those who voted for health care reform. If this drug, or any other, is denied because of cost, they will be forced to defend the decision.

The FDA has put off a final decision for another 90 days on the future of the drug according to the AP.

Drugmaker Roche said Friday that U.S. health regulators will take more time to review its drug Avastin for breast cancer, a use that has generated vigorous debate among cancer specialists and patients. The company said in a statement that the Food and Drug Administration extended its review of the drug by 90 days, or until Dec. 17.

This kicks the decision until after the fall Congressional elections. It will be much easier for the FDA to make a difficult decision after the election removing pressure from Americans who oppose government rationed care. The American people do not want rationed care and drugs for the seriously ill.

The senior advocacy group 60 Plus released the findings of a new poll that asks people about the FDA basing cancer decisions on cost. Let’s just say, the argument about ObamaCare is no longer theoretical — denial of care will impact lives and the American people know it.

Key findings of the poll include:

*56% of registered American voters believe the new healthcare reform law will lead to so-called “rationing” of care;
*82% believe that cost-effectiveness is not a justification for rationing;
*78% “worry” that the FDA’s revocation represents the “start of healthcare rationing;” and
*71% of registered American voters report they would be less likely to vote for any member of Congress who supported the FDA decision on drugs like Avastin. 49% would be “much less likely.”

Will someone have the guts to ask an ObamaCare supporter if breast cancer patients should be denied insurance coverage for Avastinor other life extending drugs? Will others join Senator Vitter in his fight to protect cancer patients? With Members of Congress running away from ObamaCare, even members of the President’s party, they are sure to run away from the FDA’s potential decision to deny patients access to a drug that extends the life of seriously ill cancer patients. This situation is yet another example of why ObamaCare needs to be repealed.
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Top Five Surprises in Obamacare

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Top 5 Surprises in Obamacare

The more the American people have learned about Obamacare since it was passed the more they dislike it. And with good reason. Here is a list of some recent surprises buried in the 2,300 pages of legislation.

1. Beginning in January 2012, businesses are required to file with the IRS for every business to business transaction over $600. This includes all transactions, not just health based ones. (Section 9006).

2. A new program (the Community Living Assistance Program) was established that is woefully underfunded by the bill and will eventually require much more money than allocated. (Section 8002).

3. As of January 2014, states must expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals under the age of 64 with family incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level. States already do not have the resources to provide adequate Medicaid coverage and this law will add millions more to Medicaid rolls. (Section 2001, as modified by 10201 and H.R. 4872; Sec. 1004 and 1201).

4. Beginning January 2011, individuals are not allowed to use Flexible Savings Accounts, Health Reimbursement Accounts, and Health Savings Accounts to purchase over-the-counter medicines. The law also caps annual contributions at $2,500, down from $5,000. Many Americans (especially younger ones in relatively good health) rely on FSAs, HRAs, and HSAs to help pay for healthcare. This law makes these consumer-oriented tools that encourage smart shopping less convenient and provides a perverse incentive for individuals to buy expensive prescription medicine instead of over-the-counter alternatives. (Section 9003).

5. Verizon, AT&T, Caterpillar and other companies publicly acknowledged that the tax structure of the new law actually encourages companies to stop providing coverage for their employees beginning in 2014. (Section 1003).
Furthermore, despite promises from President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats that the bill would not add a dime to the deficit, the most recent CBO study confirms that the projected deficit has increased by $71 billion due to newly enacted legislation (namely healthcare reform). Read more here.

H.R. 4972: A beautifully crafted 40-word solution
But as expected, House Democrats have tied up the legislation in committee to avoid voting on it before the fall elections.

Excerpts taken from Newt Gingrich’s August 25, 2010 E-mail Newsletter

Fact Sheet on Healthcare/ObamaCare

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By: Jane Hamsher Friday March 19, 2010 8:58 am

**Added Note, this article is from March, but has good facts on just how this bill will/has affected middle class families, already struggling in this economy, as well as a plethora of source documentation for you to research… I thought it worth the re-post**

The Firedoglake health care team has been covering the debate in congress since it began last year. The health care bill will come up for a vote in the House on Sunday, and as Nancy Pelosi works to wrangle votes, we’ve been running a detailed whip count on where every member of Congress stands, updated throughout the day.

We’ve also taken a detailed look at the bill, and have come up with 18 often stated myths about this health care reform bill.

Real health care reform is the thing we’ve fought for from the start.  It is desperately needed. But this bill falls short on many levels, and hurts many people more than it helps.

A middle class family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income — out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible.  Many families who are already struggling to get by would be better off saving the $5,243 in insurance costs and paying their medical expenses directly, rather than being forced to by coverage they can’t afford the co-pays on.

In addition, there is already a booming movement across the country to challenge the mandate.  Thirty-three states already have bills moving through their houses, and the Idaho governor was the first to sign it into law yesterday.  In Virginia it passed through both a Democratic House and Senate, and the governor will sign it soon.  It will be on the ballot in Arizona in 2010, and is headed in that direction for many more.  Republican senators like Dick Lugar are already asking their state attorney generals to challenge it. There are two GOP think tanks actively helping states in their efforts, and there is a booming messaging infrastructure that covers it beat-by-beat.

Whether Steny Hoyer believes the legality of the bill will prevail in court or not is moot, it could easily become the “gay marriage” of 2010, with one key difference:  there will be no one on the other side passionately opposing it.  The GOP is preparing to use it as a massive turn-out vehicle, and it not only threatens representatives in states like Florida, Colorado and Ohio where these challenges will likely be on the ballot — it threatens gubernatorial and down-ticket races as well.  Artur Davis, running for governor of Alabama, is already being put on the spot about it.

While details are limited, there is apparently a “Plan B” alternative that the White House was considering, which would evidently expand existing programs — Medicaid and SCHIP.   It would cover half the people at a quarter of the price, but it would not force an unbearable financial burden to those who are already struggling to get by.  Because it creates no new infrastructure for the purpose of funneling money to private insurance companies, there is no need for Bart Stupak’s or Ben Nelson’s language dealing with abortion — which satisfies the concerns of pro-life members of Congress, as well as women who are looking at the biggest blow to women’s reproductive rights in 35 years with the passage of this bill.  Both programs are already covered under existing law, the Hyde amendment.

But perhaps most profoundly, the bill does not mandate that people pay 8% of their annual income to private insurance companies or face a penalty of up to 2% — which the IRS would collect.  As Marcy Wheeler noted in an important post entitled “Health Care on the Road to NeoFeudalism,” we stand on the precipice of doing something truly radical in our government, by demanding that Americans pay almost as much money to private insurance companies as they do in federal taxes:

When this passes, it will become clear that Congress is no longer the sovereign of this nation. Rather, the corporations dictating the laws will be.

I understand the temptation to offer 30 million people health care. What I don’t understand is the nonchalance with which we’re about to fundamentally shift the relationships of governance in doing so.

We started down a dangerous road with Wall Street banks in the early 90s, allowing them to flood our political system with money and write our laws so that taxpayers would subsidize their profits, assume their losses and remove themselves from the necessity of competition.  By funneling so much money into the companies who created the very  problems we are now attempting to address, we further empower them to hijack our legislative process and put more than just our health care system at risk.  We risk our entire system of government.

Congress may be too far down the road with this bill to change course and save themselves — and us.  But before Democrats cast this vote, which could endanger not only their Congressional majority but their ability to “fix” things later on, they should consider the first rule of patient safety:  first, do no harm.

Myth

Truth

1. This is a universal health care bill.
The bill is neither universal health care nor universal health insurance.

Per the CBO:

  • Total uninsured in 2019 with no bill: 54 million
  • Total uninsured in 2019 with Senate bill: 24 million (44%)
2. Insurance companies hate this bill

This bill is almost identical to the plan written by AHIP, the insurance company trade association, in 2009. The original Senate Finance Committee bill was authored by a former Wellpoint VP. Since Congress released the first of its health care bills on October 30, 2009, health care stocks have risen 28.35%.
3. The bill will significantly bring down insurance premiums for most Americans.
The bill will not bring down premiums significantly, and certainly not the $2,500/year that the President promised.

Annual premiums in 2016, status quo / with bill:

Small group market, single: $7,800 / $7,800

Small group market, family: $19,300 / $19,200

Large Group market, single: $7,400 / $7,300

Large group market, family: $21,100 / $21,300

Individual market, single: $5,500 / $5,800*

Individual market, family: $13,100 / $15,200*

4. The bill will make health care affordable for middle class Americans.
The bill will impose a financial hardship on middle class Americans who will be forced to buy a product that they can’t afford to use.A family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income — out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible.
5. This plan is similar to the Massachusetts plan, which makes health care affordable. Many Massachusetts residents forgo health care because they can’t afford it.A 2009 study by the state of Massachusetts found that:

  • 21% of residents forgo medical treatment because they can’t afford it, including 12% of children
  • 18% have health insurance but can’t afford to use it
6. This bill provide health care to 31 million people who are currently uninsured.
This bill will mandate that millions of people who are currently uninsured must purchase insurance from private companies, or the IRS will collect up to 2% of their annual income in penalties. Some will be assisted with government subsidies.
7. You can keep the insurance you have if you like it.
The excise tax will result in employers switching to plans with higher co-pays and fewer covered services.

Older, less healthy employees with employer-based health care will be forced to pay much more in out-of-pocket expenses than they do now.

8. The “excise tax” will encourage employers to reduce the scope of health care benefits, and they will pass the savings on to employees in the form of higher wages. There is insufficient evidence that employers pass savings from reduced benefits on to employees.
9. This bill employs nearly every cost control idea available to bring down costs.
This bill does not bring down costs and leaves out nearly every key cost control measure, including:

  • Public Option ($25-$110 billion)
  • Medicare buy-in
  • Drug reimportation ($19 billion)
  • Medicare drug price negotiation ($300 billion)
  • Shorter pathway to generic biologics ($71 billion)
10. The bill will require big companies like WalMart to provide insurance for their employees The bill was written so that most WalMart employees will qualify for subsidies, and taxpayers will pick up a large portion of the cost of their coverage.
11. The bill “bends the cost curve” on health care.
The bill ignored proven ways to cut health care costs and still leaves 24 million people uninsured, all while slightly raising total annual costs by $234 million in 2019.“Bends the cost curve” is a misleading and trivial claim, as the US would still spend far more for care than other advanced countries.

In 2009, health care costs were 17.3% of GDP.

Annual cost of health care in 2019, status quo: $4,670.6 billion (20.8% of GDP)

Annual cost of health care in 2019, Senate bill: $4,693.5 billion (20.9% of GDP)

12. The bill will provide immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition. Access to the “high risk pool” is limited and the pool is underfunded. It will cover few people, and will run out of money in 2011 or 2012Only those who have been uninsured for more than six months will qualify for the high risk pool. Only 0.7% of those without insurance now will get coverage, and the CMS report estimates it will run out of funding by 2011 or 2012.
13. The bill prohibits dropping people in individual plans from coverage when they get sick. The bill does not empower a regulatory body to keep people from being dropped when they’re sick.There are already many states that have laws on the books prohibiting people from being dropped when they’re sick, but without an enforcement mechanism, there is little to hold the insurance companies in check.
14. The bill ensures consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to challenge new insurance plan decisions. The “internal appeals process” is in the hands of the insurance companies themselves, and the “external” one is up to each state.
Ensuring that consumers have access to “internal appeals” simply means the insurance companies have to review their own decisions. And it is the responsibility of each state to provide an “external appeals process,” as there is neither funding nor a regulatory mechanism for enforcement at the federal level.
15. This bill will stop insurance companies from hiking rates 30%-40% per year.

This bill does not limit insurance company rate hikes. Private insurers continue to be exempt from anti-trust laws, and are free to raise rates without fear of competition in many areas of the country.
16. When the bill passes, people will begin receiving benefits under this bill immediately
Most provisions in this bill, such as an end to the ban on pre-existing conditions for adults, do not take effect until 2014. Six months from the date of passage, children could not be excluded from coverage due to pre-existing conditions, though insurance companies could charge more to cover them. Children would also be allowed to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. There will be an elimination of lifetime coverage limits, a high risk pool for those who have been uninsured for more than 6 months, and community health centers will start receiving money.
17. The bill creates a pathway for single payer.

Bernie Sanders’ provision in the Senate bill does not start until 2017, and does not cover the Department of Labor, so no, it doesn’t create a pathway for single payer.
Obama told Dennis Kucinich that the Ohio Representative’s amendment is similar to Bernie Sanders’ provision in the Senate bill, and creates a pathway to single payer. Since the waiver does not start until 2017, and does not cover the Department of Labor, it is nearly impossible to see how it gets around the ERISA laws that stand in the way of any practical state single payer system.
18 The bill will end medical bankruptcy and provide all Americans with peace of mind.
Most people with medical bankruptcies already have insurance, and out-of-pocket expenses will continue to be a burden on the middle class.

  • In 2009, 1.5 million Americans declared bankruptcy
  • Of those, 62% were medically related
  • Three-quarters of those had health insurance
  • The Obama bill leaves 24 million without insurance
  • The maximum yearly out-of-pocket limit for a family will be $11,900 (PDF) on top of premiums
  • A family with serious medical problems that last for a few years could easily be financially crushed by medical costs

*Cost of premiums goes up somewhat due to subsidies and mandates of better coverage. CBO assumes that cost of individual policies goes down 7-10%, and that people will buy more generous policies.

Documentation:

  1. March 11, Letter from Doug Elmendorf to Harry Reid (PDF)
  2. The AHIP Plan in Context, Igor Volsky; The Max Baucus WellPoint/Liz Fowler Plan, Marcy Wheeler
  3. CBO Score, 11-30-2009
  4. “Affordable” Health Care, Marcy Wheeler
  5. Gruber Doesn’t Reveal That 21% of Massachusetts Residents Can’t Afford Health Care, Marcy Wheeler; Massachusetts Survey (PDF)
  6. Health Care on the Road to Neo-Feudalism, Marcy Wheeler
  7. CMS: Excise Tax on Insurance Will Make Your Insurane Coverage Worse and Cause Almost No Reduction in NHE, Jon Walker
  8. Employer Health Costs Do Not Drive Wage Trends, Lawrence Mishel
  9. CBO Estimates Show Public Plan With Higher Savings Rate, Congress Daily; Drug Importation Amendment Likely This Week, Politico; Medicare Part D IAF; A Monopoloy on Biologics Will Drain Health Care Resources, Lancet Student
  10. MaxTax Is a Plan to Use Our Taxes to Reward Wal-Mart for Keeping Its Workers in Poverty, Marcy Wheeler
  11. Estimated Financial Effects of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009,” as Proposed by the Senate Majority Leader on November 18, 2009, CMS (PDF)
  12. Health insurance companies hang onto their antitrust exemption, Protect Consumer Justice.org
  13. What passage of health care reform would mean for the average American, DC Examiner
  14. How to get a State Single Payer Opt-Out as Part of Reconciliation, Jon Walker
  15. Medical bills prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies, CNN.com; The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Section‐by‐Section Analysis (PDF)

Prop C passes overwhelmingly in Missouri

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BY TONY MESSENGER

Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a federal mandate to purchase health insurance, rebuking President Barack Obama’s administration and giving Republicans their first political victory in a national campaign to overturn the controversial health care law passed by Congress in March.

“The citizens of the Show-Me State don’t want Washington involved in their health care decisions,” said Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, one of the sponsors of the legislation that put Proposition C on the August ballot. She credited a grass-roots campaign involving Tea Party and patriot groups with building support for the anti-Washington proposition.

With most of the vote counted, Proposition C was winning by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1. The measure, which seeks to exempt Missouri from the insurance mandate in the new health care law, includes a provision that would change how insurance companies that go out of business in Missouri liquidate their assets.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Cunningham said at a campaign gathering at a private home in Town and Country. “Citizens wanted their voices to be heard.”

About 30 Proposition C supporters whooped it up loudly at 9 p.m. when the returns flashed on the television showing the measure passing with more than 70 percent of the vote.

“It’s the vote heard ’round the world,” said Dwight Janson, 53, from Glendale, clad in an American flag-patterned shirt. Janson said he went to one of the first Tea Party gatherings last year and hopped on the Proposition C bandwagon because he wanted to make a difference.

“I was tired of sitting on the sidelines bouncing my gums,” he said.

Missouri was the first of four states to seek to opt out of the insurance purchase mandate portion of the health care law that had been pushed by Obama. And while many legal scholars question whether the vote will be binding, the overwhelming approval gives the national GOP momentum as Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma hold similar votes during midterm elections in November.

“It’s a big number,” state Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, said of the vote. “I expected a victory, but not of this magnitude. This is going to propel the issue and several other issues about the proper role of the federal government.”

From almost the moment the Democratic-controlled Congress passed the health care law — which aims to increase the number of Americans with health insurance — Republicans have vowed to try to repeal it. Their primary argument is that they believe the federal government should not be involved in mandating health care decisions at the local level.

While repeal might seem an unlikely strategy, the effort to send a message state by state that voters don’t approve of being told they have to buy insurance could gain momentum.

That’s what Republicans are counting on at least, hoping that the Missouri vote will give the national movement momentum.

“It’s like a domino, and Missouri is the first one to fall,” Cunningham said. “Missouri’s vote will greatly influence the debate in the other states.”

Proposition C faced little organized opposition, although the Missouri Hospital Association mounted a mailer campaign opposing the ballot issue in the last couple of weeks. The hospital association, which spent more than $300,000 in the losing effort, said that without the new federal law, those who don’t have insurance will cause health care providers and other taxpayers to have higher costs.

“The only way to get to the cost problem in health care is to expand the insurance pool,” said hospital association spokesman Dave Dillon. He said the hospital association didn’t plan to sue over the law, but he expected it would be challenged.

“I think there is going to be no shortage of people who want to use the courts to resolve this issue,” he said.

Democrats also generally opposed Proposition C, though they didn’t spend much time or money talking about it.

In the closing days of the campaign, many politicians ‘sidled up” to Proposition C, Cunningham said, seeing the momentum the issue had gained.

Among them was U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, who won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate on Tuesday night. Late last week, Blunt announced his support of Proposition C.

On Monday, Blunt said he hoped Missouri voters would send a “ballot box message” to the Obama’s administration by overwhelmingly passing the measure.

The question now is whether the administration will respond by suing the state to block passage of the law, much as it did in Arizona recently over illegal immigration.

The issue in both is the same: When state laws conflict with federal laws, the courts have generally ruled in favor of the federal government, because of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Richard Reuben, a law professor at the University of Missouri School of Law, said that if the federal government sues on the issue, it would likely win. Several other Missouri legal and political scholars agreed.

But Cunningham is undaunted. She’s got her own experts, and they’re ready to do battle in court.

“Constitutional experts disagree,” she said. “There is substantial legal status to this thing.”

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