Healthcare Reform

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Health Care Reform

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dee Perez-Scott: Obama blows through $2 billion of your and the tax payers' money!

Dee Perez-Scott:Obama blows through $2 billion of your and the tax payers' money!
A little-known provision in the Obamacare legislation has sent $2 billion to corporations, unions and state public employee systems to subsidize health coverage for retirees.

At the current rate, the government could blow through the entire $5 billion budgeted for the program before it is set to end, Byron York of The Washington Examiner reported.

The discovery by investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee was made just before a hearing to focus on Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The CCIO oversees the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, which was set up to subsidize insurance for workers who retired before they were eligible for Medicare, the paper said.

The early retirees often have trouble getting health insurance, an HHS report said, because of age or chronic conditions, and the program was set up to bridge the gap between retirement and the creation of health-care exchanges provided for in Obamacare come into being in 2014.

The biggest chunk of the money paid out so far has gone to the United Auto Workers, which received over $206 million. AT&T collected $140 million, Verizon $91 million, General Electric $36 million, and General Motors $19 million, the paper said.

State governments have also collected large sums with the Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio receiving $70 million and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas $68 million.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pelosi Health Care Bill Blows a Kiss to Trial Lawyers

Posted By Capitol Confidential On October 30, 2009 (12:17 pm) In Congress, Healthcare
The health care bill recently unveiled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi is over 1,900 pages for a reason. It is much easier to dispense goodies to favored interest groups if they are surrounded by a lot of legislative legalese. For example, check out this juicy morsel to the trial lawyers (page 1431-1433 of the bill):

Section 2531, entitled “Medical Liability Alternatives,” establishes an incentive program for states to adopt and implement alternatives to medical liability litigation. [But]…… a state is not eligible for the incentive payments if that state puts a law on the books that limits attorneys’ fees or imposes caps on damages.

So, you can’t try to seek alternatives to lawsuits if you’ve actually done something to implement alternatives to lawsuits. Brilliant! The trial lawyers must be very happy today!

While there is debate over the details, it is clear that medical malpractive lawsuits have some impact on driving health care costs higher. There are likely a number of procedures that are done simply as a defense against future possible litigation. Recall this from the Washington Post:

“Lawmakers could save as much as $54 billion over the next decade by imposing an array of new limits on medical malpractice lawsuits, congressional budget analysts said today — a substantial sum that could help cover the cost of President Obama’s overhaul of the nation’s health system. New research shows that legal reforms would not only lower malpractice insurance premiums for medical providers, but would also spur providers to save money by ordering fewer tests and procedures aimed primarily at defending their decisions in court, Douglas Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, wrote in a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).”

Stay tuned. There are certainly many more terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad provisions in this massive bill.

Health Care Bill Costs -- Redistribution of Wealth

My problem with this health care bill is very simple: math.

It is projected to cost $1.2 Trillion dollars over ten years, or $1,200,000,000,000.

That would be roughly $4,000 per citizen (pop. listed at 304,059,724).

BUT..... according to Bls.gov, only 108 million Americans are working. So...

That would be just over $11,000 in taxes per working person.

But, the government claims they will only tax the $500,000 or more "workers".

Well.....

According to the IRS, there were 1,039,289 individual tax returns filed with in income over $500,000.

So what would their new tax burden be?

$1,154,635 per tax payer making over $500,000 a year. Dividing by ten years gives an average increase of $115,464 per year for tax payers in this category. The actual burden for individuals is not apparent without some understanding of how this average increase would distribute over the various levels within the broad category of "over $500,000." Those earning $500,001 would probably pay substantially less than say, Bill Gates but how many Bill Gates and Warren Buffets are there? Wouldn't the preponderance of these folks be at the lower end of the range?

And this is on top of what they pay in taxes now.....
And if we were to remove the cap on taxable income for Social Security purposes, the affluent would take another big hit.
I know that the Government failed economics, but did the entire Government fail math too?

Narrowly passed House health care bill lacks broad support

The Detroit News Editorial:
The narrow margin that carried the Nancy Pelosi/Barack Obama health care bill to victory in the House late Saturday should inform the Senate as it finalizes its own plan.

The bill passed 220-215 with one Republican siding with the majority and 39 mostly moderate and conservative Democrats joining opponents. This is an economy busting bill devised and passed by liberal Democrats who largely ignored appeals for moderation.

A measure that will impact every American and greatly rework the nation's health care system should not be rammed through in such a divisive way. The Senate's task is to scale back the expense and scope of the bill to something more palatable to the broadest number while favoring less disruptive, incremental change at a time when the economy can ill afford higher taxes and deeper deficits.

Concerns and questions about the bill were waved away by the House majority. But they must be forthrightly dealt with by the Senate.

Above all else is the cost. Democrats estimate the cost at $1.2 trillion over the next decade, but have worked feverishly to repress credible, contrary estimates that the true expense will be $2 trillion or more. The plan will levy taxes for 10 years to pay for six years of benefits, suggesting that in the second decade the annual costs will explode.

Democrats say the health care package will not increase the deficit because it contains offsetting cost cuts. To believe that, Americans would have to forget everything they know about how the federal government operates and its inability to manage its current health care programs -- Medicare and Medicaid -- with anything resembling fiscal responsibility.

Part of the supposed savings will come by trimming $500 billion from Medicare, a reckless move considering that the program is already hurtling toward insolvency.

The House bill makes a mockery of President Barack Obama's promise that those who currently have health insurance they're satisfied with will not be forced to change. By setting up a government panel to mandate coverage levels, it will strip employees and employers of the right to negotiate their plans that suit their own needs. It also mandates that employers cover 72.5 percent of employee insurance or pay an 8 percent fine. Many employers will find the fine less expensive than the mandated policies and dump their employees into government sponsored plans.

It returns an HMO-style management system for determining what procedures and treatments are covered, what fees are paid and who can provide care. Americans have unpleasant memories of how such a system worked in the 1980s, and have no reason to think government can execute it any better.

The bill reaches well beyond the stated goals of providing everyone access to affordable health care and controlling the soaring costs of insurance. It diverts billions of dollars into ill-defined community health programs that are bound to become a major pay-off to Democratic interests. It also contains a series of gratuitous racial preference requirements.

The House bill has the real potential of raising taxes on businesses and consumers alike, killing jobs in a fragile economy and establishing a massive new bureaucracy with an insatiable appetite for tax dollars.

It's a mess. Surely the Senate can do better. It ought to start by acknowledging the House bill is too expensive, too radically changes health care and promises to bring a deep and bitter divide to the nation.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Health Care Reform -- A Disaster

Here's a few of the "goodies" Pelosi threw into H.R. 3962:
Page 111 - Section 223 establishes a new board of federal bureaucrats (the “Health Benefits Advisory Committee”) to dictate the health plans that all individuals must purchase.

Page 211 - Section 321 establishes a new government-run health plan that, according to non-partisan actuaries at the Lewin Group, would cause as many as 114 million Americans to lose their existing coverage.

Page 297 - Section 501 imposes a 2.5 percent tax on all individuals who do not purchase “bureaucrat-approved” health insurance - the tax would apply on individuals with incomes under $250,000, thus breaking a central promise of then-Senator Obama’s presidential campaign.

Do you believe Pelosi and Obama when they say “if you like your plan you can keep your plan” … that you ultimately won’t be forced to live with government-run insurance? They have been lying about this all along.

Check out this provision…
Page 94 - Section 202(c) prohibits the sale of private individual health insurance policies, beginning in 2013, forcing individuals to purchase coverage through the federal government.

Of course, Members of Congress and their family members need not worry about how this radical overhaul of our nation's health care will affect them because...

Page 225 - Section 330 permits—but does not require—Members of Congress to enroll in government-run health care.

Page 110 - Section 222(e) requires the use of federal dollars to fund abortions through the government-run health plan—and, if the Hyde Amendment were ever not renewed, would require the plan to fund elective abortions.

Page 313 - Section 512 imposes an 8 percent “tax on jobs” for firms that cannot afford to purchase “bureaucrat-approved” health coverage; according to an analysis by Harvard Professor Kate Baicker, such a tax would place millions “at substantial risk of unemployment”—with minority workers losing their jobs at twice the rate of their white counterparts.

Page 336 - Section 551 imposes additional job-killing taxes, in the form of a half-trillion dollar “surcharge,” more than half of which will hit small businesses; according to a model developed by President Obama’s senior economic advisor, such taxes could cost up to 5.5 million jobs.

Page 520 - Section 1161 cuts more than 150 billion [dollars] from Medicare Advantage plans, potentially jeopardizing millions of seniors’ existing coverage.

Page 733 - Section 1401 establishes a new Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research; the bill includes no provisions preventing the government-run health plan from using such research to deny access to life-saving treatments on cost grounds, similar to Britain’s National Health Service, which denies patient treatments costing more than 35,000 [pounds].

And last, but certainly not least:

Page 1174 - Section 1802(b) includes provisions entitled 'Taxes On Certain Insurance Policies' to fund comparative effectiveness research, breaking Speaker Pelosi’s promise that 'We will not be taxing [health] benefits in any bill that passes the House,' and the President’s promise not to raise taxes on families with incomes under 250,000 [dollars].

And what about the eligibility of illegals for Obamacare. Yep, those loopholes that Obama lied about are still in there>.

"The Worst Bill Ever: Epic New Spending And Taxes, Pricier Insurance, Rationed Care, Dishonest Accounting: The Pelosi Health Bill Has It All."


That's what the Wall Street Journal had to say about H.R. 3962. But that's not all the Journal said:

"The health bill she [Pelosi] unwrapped last Thursday, which President Obama hailed as a 'critical milestone,' may well be the worst piece of post-New Deal legislation ever introduced."

Here's a scary prognosis:

"Taxes will need to rise precipitously, even as ObamaCare so dramatically expands government control of health care that eventually all medicine will be rationed via politics."

The Journal also writes:

"Yet at this point, Democrats have dumped any pretense of genuine bipartisan 'reform' and moved into the realm of pure power politics as they race against the unpopularity of their own agenda. The goal is to ram through whatever income-redistribution scheme they can claim to be 'universal coverage.' The result will be destructive on every level — for the health-care system, for the country's fiscal condition, and ultimately for American freedom and prosperity."

Extreme liberals in the House and the Senate, as well as Barack Obama, are indeed racing against their rising unpopularity.

And health care will only be passed if these extreme liberals can make false and empty promises and ram legislation through Congress before the American people realize they are being duped.

That's been their plan of action with each and every previous incarnation of ObamaCare and that is still their plan today.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Health Care Reform - What's Really in the Stealth Bill?

As liberals rush ObamaCare through Congress, let's review the disparity between promises and text. Joe Wilson's declaration "You lie!" is ringing truer with each passing day.

Barack Obama promised "transparency" and giving the public five days to read the bill, but Senator Jim Bunning's (R-KY) amendment to require the bill, along with a final Congressional Budget Office score, to be posted online 72 hours before the vote, was defeated. Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) have been trying to get the House to agree to post the bill 72 hours before the vote, but while most Republicans have signed on, the Nancy Pelosi leadership is unwilling.

The Democrats still hope to rush the bill through unread. The 1,100-page Stimulus bill was posted online only 13 hours before the vote, and the 1,200-page Cap and Trade bill was posted only 15 hours before the vote.

Obama promised that the health-care bill would not cover illegal aliens, but Senator Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) amendment to require immigrants to prove their identity with a photo I.D. was rejected.

Obama promised that if you like your current health insurance you won't have to change it, but Senator John Cornyn's (R-TX) amendment to assure present insurance owners that they won't have to change their coverage, and that they can keep the coverage they have with their current employer without government driving up cost, was defeated.

Obama's appointment of 34 czars includes a Health Care Czar, but Senator John Ensign's (R-NV) amendment to require any health care czar to be subject to the constitutional Senate confirmation process was defeated. Obama's new Regulatory Czar, Cass Sunstein, defends removing organs from terminally ill patients and from deceased persons even though they did not consent to be organ donors.

Obama promised that "under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions," and his Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tried to divert attention from this bold lie by obfuscating the Hyde Amendment. But the Hyde Amendment is not a law; it's a one-year-at-a-time rider that applies only to current Medicaid programs, and would not apply to the health-care law.

The Democrats five times (twice in Senate committees, three times in House committees) defeated amendments to prohibit the health-care plan from spending federal money or requiring health insurance plans to cover abortions. They also defeated Senator Orrin Hatch's (R-UT) amendment to respect the conscience rights of health-care workers who do not want to perform abortions because of moral or religious objections.

One amendment that did pass was Senator Maria Cantwell's (D-WA) amendment that gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to define cost-effective care for each medical condition and to punish doctors who treat high-cost patients with complex conditions. That has been Obama's goal from the beginning and will inevitably lead to the "death panels" Sarah Palin warned about.

Former Senator Tom Daschle, who was scheduled to be Health and Human Services Secretary or Health Care Czar until he had to bow out, said that the law should be written in generalities so the bureaucrats can fill in the details. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and a key Obama health care adviser, may be behind the Stimulus legislation that will send "embedded clinical-decision support" to doctors via computer to warn them about what is "appropriate" and "cost-effective," backed up by the threat to impose financial penalties on doctors who are not "meaningful users."

The Democrats' health-care "reform" carries a trillion-dollar price tag, will vastly increase the national debt hanging over our children and grandchildren, impose socialist control over one-sixth of our economy, and force us to obey totalitarian dictates. The mandate on employers to provide health insurance will result in lower wages and fewer jobs.

The mandate on individuals to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, even threatening jail for those who fail to conform, amounts to a massive tax increase on individuals and families whose health insurance may lack all the new federally specified requirements.

Obama's "spread the wealth around" policy is evident in the big expansion of Medicaid combined with large cuts in Medicare. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt says that the combination of mandates to buy insurance, guaranteed issue, and community rating amounts to massive income distribution that is hidden from public view and not even debated.

Finally, we are subject to the deviousness of what House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) calls the 70 phantom amendments that were added in secret after the bill was voted out by the committee.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tort Reform

There has been a lot of talk in Washington about cutting wasteful health-care spending, but it is troubling that such talk has not created a sense of urgency for national tort reform. It is especially frustrating because states have already shown that curbing junk lawsuits can cut costs, create jobs, and increase the quality of care available to patients.

I know this because that is exactly what happened in Missouri when, as governor, I helped to enact comprehensive reforms.

I took office in January 2005 at a time when runaway lawsuits were driving up the cost of doing business in my state and forcing doctors and other business owners to close their doors. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform keeps a list of states ranked according to their legal environment. At the time, Missouri ranked among the 10 worst.

"Venue-shopping," a tactic that involves shifting a case to a friendly court regardless of where the injury occurred, was common. Defendants could be made to pay 100% of a judgment even if they were only 1% responsible for the injury. And caps on damages had been rendered meaningless by state court decisions.

This legal environment raised the cost of health care for everyone and imposed stiff costs on businesses. It also forced doctors to close their doors. For example, the eastern half of Jackson County, one of Missouri's largest, lost its only neurosurgeons in 2003 due to high malpractice insurance costs. Many other parts of the state suffered from a lack of doctors able to deliver babies. One obstetrician who delivered more than 200 babies annually was forced to quit after his annual insurance premiums skyrocketed 82% in just one year. Making matters worse, few new doctors wanted to move to Missouri. One Kansas City area doctor sent letters to more than 400 physicians finishing their residencies and did not receive a single response back.

To counteract these problems we required that cases be heard in the county where the alleged injury occurred, and we changed the law so that defendants could only be forced to pay a full judgment if their fault exceeded 50%.

We put a $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages and created rules to prevent baseless cases from getting off of the ground. Previously, personal injury lawyers could file cases if they got a written affidavit from any qualified health-care provider claiming that there was negligence. We tightened that by requiring that the affidavit come from an active professional practicing substantially the same specialty as the defendant.

We also took another common-sense step. Doctors often express empathy to a suffering patient regardless of fault. Saying you are "sorry" for someone's plight is a testament of good character, and should not be used against you in court. But tort lawyers were claiming that such statements were an admission of guilt. We stopped that abuse.

Tort reform works. Missouri's medical malpractice claims are now at a 30-year low. Average payouts are about $50,000 below the 2005 average. Malpractice insurers are also turning a profit for the fifth year in a row—allowing other insurers to compete for business in Missouri. This will drive down costs, which will save government programs money as well as improve the system for patients. It will also leave doctors with more resources to invest in better care.

Since 2005, Missouri has moved up to 31st on the Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform's list.

Because we passed tort reform, cut taxes and controlled state spending, Missouri's economy is now in better shape than it would have been. During the four years I was in office, about 70,000 net new jobs were created in my state.

Texas has seen similar success from its 2003 tort reforms. The number of doctors applying for a license in that state has increased by 57% and doctors' insurance rates have declined by an average of 27%. There are now more doctors in Texas providing care in previously underserved areas.

There is no reason that the success that Missouri, Texas and other states have experienced cannot be replicated nationally. States are demonstrating that tort reform lowers costs, expands access, and creates jobs. The time to get behind national tort reform is now.

Mr. Blunt, a Republican, is a former governor of Missouri.

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