Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Health Care, Law, Regulation, Taxes, The United States | Tags: Cause and Effect, The Great Regulation, The Weakest Recovery Ever
President Obama has liked to emphasize the depth and general awfulness of what he calls “the Great Recession”— a term that pleases him because it associates his recession with Franklin Roosevelt’s Great Depression. Roosevelt cheerfully tried to tackle the Great Depression with constant experimentation. Obama has confronted his recession with regulation without end, in the unfortunate delusion that more control would fix things.
Washington set a new record in 2013 by issuing final rules taking up 26,417 pages in the Federal Register. The rules came from various agencies, but Obama remains at the helm and leadership matters. By sheer numbers, President Obama stands at the pinnacle for numbers of rules. The federal Register contained 3,659 “final” rules (which mean you have to obey them), and 2,594 proposed rules on their way to join the others.
Neither politicians nor the media regard this effort to control as anything out of the ordinary, nor important. Yet if you wonder why the recovery has been so far below average —there it is. The bulk of this year’s regulation comes from ObamaCare—a 2,700 page law that has metastasized into a 7 foot tall stack of documents, and Dodd-Frank. Things don’t get done because nobody has the authority to make them happen.
I wrote about the pressing need to protect and update our electrical grid, vital and essential to all life in America, but there is no active plan to rebuild the grid, because the government cannot make the decisions needed to approve it. The average length of environmental review for highway projects, according to a study by the Regional Plan Association, is over eight years. Eight years!
The results and costs of the legal system are not just monetary, everything is too complicated. There are rules in the workplace, rights in the classroom, and government is bogged down in bureaucracy. Responsible people do not feel free to make sensible decisions. We are pushed around by lawsuits, and unable to move for fear of punishment for barely understood regulation.
The point of regulation is to try to make things run smoothly, make sure things work in a crowded society, but rules have consequences, and not always those intended. We now have a court system where even referendums voted on by the public have been taken over by the court system in which judges now feel free to decide these matters. The objections to “judicial activism” are richly deserved, and now even judges are mistrusted.
Consider the case of a fictional Pasquale’s Pizza chain. The typical restaurant has their pizza menu on a large lighted sign behind the counter where you place your order. The federal government has decided that nutritional values for each ingredient must be listed on the menu. Impossible on the customary lighted sign. What to do? How much will it cost? The profit margin is already slim. Pizza chains have dozens of ingredients, and changing featured recipes to entice customers. ObamaCare requires a restaurant to provide health insurance for full-time workers. The cost of policies has gone up sharply. Cut back all employees to 30 hours? Female employees and male employees must work the same number of hours for the same wage.
The requirement for ethanol in gasoline has raised the cost of pizza ingredients. It has also raised the cost of transporting supplies. Requiring a portion of power to come from wind and solar has raised the cost of electricity. Fuel-efficiency regulations have raised the cost of trucking. And all that is before regulations and taxes at the local, state and national levels.
You end up with schools that make fools of themselves over zero-tolerance regulations that do nothing to prevent violence, school lunches that kids won’t eat. You have armed federal agents raiding the Gibson Guitar Company and confiscating their guitars and their materials ostensibly because the wood used for guitar frets violated and environmental law. The wood was legally imported, meeting all the standards of the country of origin, but the costs to Gibson were huge. You not only cannot fight city hall, but you must surrender even though you are in the right, just to avoid further financial damage. There is case after case of people subjected to an armed SWAT raid, accused of violating a regulation they’ve never heard of, and ruined financially.
What business is going to take a big risk, invest a lot of money in a new venture, expanding, hiring new workers in such a climate? There is risk in everything we do. Trying to legislate risk out of our lives just leaves us with rules that keep people hunkered down, trying to avoid bureaucratic attention. In this climate, politicians cannot even get the big things done, let alone attempting to undo the web of regulation that is crippling society.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, Statism | Tags: The Cost of Bad Ideas, The Democrats' Mistakes, Unicorns and Rainbows
When the Democrats started digging old plans out of dusty drawers, they decided, since they controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency, to go for government sponsored health care; they were absolutely sure that the American people were going to love it. Big mistake.
The cost of American health care had been climbing significantly, and Democrats were sure that they could significantly cut the costs of medicine by making the medical profession more efficient and insisting that they learn from the best practices of industry stars. Another mistake.
Democrats believed that the uninsured were a huge problem because people with no insurance were flooding emergency rooms and driving up costs. Turned out that most of those who used emergency rooms had insurance, they just couldn’t make appointments with their doctor for immediate help. Turned out that a large percentage of the uninsured did not have insurance because they could not afford it, but because they didn’t want to pay for insurance. They were healthy and unconcerned. Oops!
Democrats believed that if they added some nice benefits that people had never had before on their insurance like therapeutic massage, birth control and pediatric dentistry, the government insurance would be even more popular. They would just spread the costs of the new benefits across the board so the expense would not be noticed. They didn’t have an insurance actuary figure out the costs of including those benefits on a policy for 55 and 60 year-old folks who had no need for birth control or pediatric dentistry.
The CBO has issued a report that appears to show that ObamaCare will cost less and cover more people than expected. But their projections seldom turn out. There are just too many variables. The latest report says that ObamaCare will cost $104 billion less over the next 10 years than it thought just two months ago. The numbers rest on the CBO belief that premiums will be flat next year, but the industry has already warned of double-digit rate increases— a sharp rise that will drive costs up far beyond the CBO’s estimates.
Out of the blue, the Census Bureau has changed how it counts health insurance, just at the moment when ObamaCare is roiling the insurance markets. The effect will muddy comparisons between pre-ObamaCare and post-ObamaCare numbers. A lot of things we would like to know, like how many people gained or lost insurance under ObamaCare? Did government crowd out individual insurance? It will apparently take several years before we have answers to those questions.
The one thing that is increasing dramatically is unhappiness among physicians. Nine out of ten doctors discourage others from entering the profession. 300 doctors commit suicide every year. Depression among doctors is not new, but the level of unhappiness is on the rise. Being a doctor has become a miserable and humiliating undertaking, and many doctors feel that America has declared war on physicians and doctors and patients are the losers.
Many doctors just want out. More are running for Congress. Medical students opt for high-paying specialties so they can retire as soon as possible. MBA plans for physicians are flourishing, they promise doctors a way into management. The website called the Drop-Out-Club hooks doctors up with jobs at hedge funds and venture capital firms.
Some, including President Obama, seem to believe that doctors are paid way too much and if the government needs to save costs, they can just pay doctors less. This is the mindset that reduced Medicaid to such a point that those who go without health care may do better than Medicaid patients. Same goes for Medicare and the other government controlled health care systems.
More doctors refuse to accept health insurance. Some have gone into concierge medicine, where for an annual fee, the doctor is at your service for the year. The federal government is hoping to go after that escape from ObamaCare, and they are still intending to end Medicare Advantage plans.
Just processing insurance forms costs $58 for each patient encounter, according to Dr. Stephen Schimpff, an internist and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center. Physicians have had to increase the number of patients they see. The end result is that the average face-to-face clinic visit lasts about 12 minutes, in which the doctor probably spends most of the time interacting with his computer.
Under ObamaCare the incentives are all wrong. The government adds ill-considered benefits to insurance policies in the hope of getting people signed up. This makes the insurance too costly for most people. The push from the government will be a constant effort to cut costs. Hospitals will push for doctors to see more patients in less time, so they can be adequately reimbursed. Doctors will be encouraged to pay less attention to the Hippocratic Oath and more effort to try to get adequately paid, or to get out of the profession—which will encourage the best and brightest to aim for other careers. Watch for a push for increased immigration of physicians from third world countries. Other than that…
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Freedom, Health Care, Politics, Progressivism, Statism | Tags: Admitting Reality, Lies and Euphemisms, The Pretense of Universality
Ross Douthat had an excellent column on Sunday about “the serious moral defect at the heart of elite culture in America.”
He began with a look back at a column by a Harvard undergraduate, Sandra Y.L Korn, which got some attention thanks to its daring view of just how universities should approach academic freedom. She claimed such freedom was dated and destructive and that a doctrine of “academic justice” should prevail instead. Harvard should not permit its faculty to engage in work tainted by “racism, sexism, and heterosexism.” She could come up with only one contemporary example of a Harvard voice that ought to be silenced, a “single conservative octogenarian” the renowned political philosophy professor Harvey Mansfield. Possibly because there are no conservatives to be found at Harvard.
Douthat says he tries to be a “partisan of pluralism, which requires respecting Mozilla’s right to have a C.E.O. whose politics fit the climate of Silicon Valley, and Brandeis’s right to rescind degrees as it sees fit”… but it’s hard to maintain respect “when these institutions will not admit that this is what is going on. Instead, we have the pretense of universality —the insistence that the post-Eich Mozilla is open to all ideas, the invocations of the ‘spirit of free expression’ from a school that’s kicking a controversial speaker off the stage.”
It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic or B. Y.U. is Mormon or Chick-fil-A is evangelical, and that they intend to run their institution according to those lights.
I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.
Do read the whole thing. We desperately need to clearly understand just what is going on around us. Propaganda fails if everybody knows that it is just propaganda. Lies, recognized, are just embarrassing.
Journalist Jack Kelly asks “Why Aren’t Public Officials Held to Account for Lying?” He contrasts the penalty imposed on a television con man with the whoppers told by government officials, and suggests that the penalties for lying should be equally applied.
It was chiefly the concept of equal protection of the laws — the idea that the rules should apply to the rulers as well as the ruled — that made our government different from most others in the history of the world.
It is the lying that gets toxic.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Freedom, History, The Constitution | Tags: Internet Freedom, Internet Technology, Surrendering Control?
The Obama administration has backed off from its plan to abandon U.S. protection of the open internet in 2015, only a month after announcing its plan to do so. Objections from Bill Clinton, a warning letter from 35 Republican senators, and critical congressional hearings and the administration now says the change won’t happen for years, if ever.
The proposed change is an agreement under which the U.S. retains ultimate control over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as Icann. Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence Strickling told Congress last week they can extend the contract for up four years.
A House panel voted along party lines on Thursday to delay the administration’s plan to surrender oversight over certain internet management functions. Republicans worry that the proposal to transfer power to an international nonprofit group could open the door to an Internet takeover by authoritarian regimes.The bill would block the transfer of Internet powers for up to a year while the Government Accountability Office investigates the administration’s plan. The bill now goes to the full Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration.
Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) argued that the United States should carefully study the proposal before moving forward.”We know what China has done to silence dissent and Vladimir Putin wants to use the powers of the [International Telecommunications Union] to control the internet.”
Democrats accused Republicans of being paranoid. Ranking Democrat Anita Eshoo said “It is not a conspiracy or a digital black helicopter.”
The policy in question is the protection of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS) and the vital Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (ANA)— functions that are the lifeblood of the free flow of information online—linking easy-to-remember domain names to numerical Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Bill Clinton issued a directive to Commerce in 1997, to maintain “a market-driven policy architecture that will allow the new digital economy to flourish while at the same time protecting citizens’ rights and freedoms.” Icann has worked under the auspices of the federal government since 1998 to perform the oversight role.
Obama wants to forsake these essential protections in the name of global accommodation, potentially allowing countries or even bodies like the United Nations to impose their own definition of internet “freedom.” Obama’s decision would be consistent with his views on net neutrality, recent efforts of the FCC to place monitors in U.S. newsrooms and the Justice Department’s surveillance of professional journalists.
There is significant evidence that international groups are big on the “international” or “we are the world” idea, and not so much concerned about freedom and equal access. Many authoritarian countries already try to control and censor the internet. Not everyone believes in freedom of information—and we have considerable evidence in our own country of the current struggle to control speech that is unpopular or provocative or simply disagrees. The recent flap about NSA surveillance has made many international activists concerned, although Internet freedom would seem to offer Internet surveillance free to all comers.
When Icann’s contract with the federal government expires in 2015, it simply means that one government contractor is no longer responsible for the administration task. It does not mean the federal government has agreed to cede the oversight role. Only a vote of the U.S. Congress could do that.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Politics, Progressivism, Taxes | Tags: How Insurance Works, The Unaffordable Care Act, Uninsured and Up The Creek
The health insurance policy rate hikes in excess of 6% in December were the largest reported since Morgan Stanley’s research team first started conducting quarterly surveys of insurance brokers in 2010. The April survey shows the largest rise in small and individual groups perhaps ever. The average increases are in excess of 11% in the small group market and 12% in the individual market. Some state increases are 10 to 50 times that amount. The analysts conclude that the “increases are largely due to changes under the ACA.”
The analysts conducting the survey attribute the rate increases largely to a combination of four factors set in motion by Obamacare: Commercial underwriting restrictions, the age bands that don’t allow insurers to vary premiums between young and old beneficiaries based on the actual costs of providing the coverage, the new excise taxes being levied on insurance plans, and new benefit designs.
For the individual insurance market (plans sold directly to consumers); among the ten states seeing some of the sharpest average increases are: Delaware at 100%, New Hampshire 90%, Indiana 54%, California 53%, Connecticut 45%, Michigan 36%, Florida 37%, Georgia 29%, Kentucky 29%, and Pennsylvania 28%.
For the small group market, among the ten states seeing the biggest increases are: Washington 588%, Pennsylvania 66%, California 37%, Indiana 34%, Kentucky 30%, Colorado 29%, Michigan 27%, Maryland 25%, Missouri 25%, and Nevada 23%.
Think of the bride whose intimate garden wedding grows into a society-page extravaganza as the guest list keeps growing. The simple two-tier wedding cake turns into a multi-storied edifice with elaborate floral icing on each layer. Not going to cost the same, and all those unneeded flowers and loops add to the cost, just as pediatric dentistry for 60 year-olds adds to the cost on an insurance policy. The massage therapy and acupuncture make a nice selling point, but it really isn’t free.
Since these hikes aren’t coming from HHS, but from the insurance companies, where it cannot be put off till “after the election,” it’s going to get interesting. Affordable Care indeed!
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Regulation | Tags: Big Bloated Government, Exposing Layers of Excess, Spotlighting Duplication
How many bureaucrats does it take to screw in a lightbulb? According to USA today, It takes 10 different offices at the HHS to tun programs addressing AIDS in minority communities. Autism research is spread out over 11 separate agencies. Eight agencies at the DOD are looking for prisoners of war and those missing in action. Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado has 8 different satellite control centers to control 10 satellite programs.
These are simply 26 new areas pointed out by the Government Accountability Office, where federal government programs are overlapping, duplicative, fragmented or just inefficient. There are 162 areas so identified in part reports. This gives Congress a clear map for saving tens of billion of dollars a year.
We owe this list to Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), who wrote the legislation requiring this annual report, which is now in its fourth year. “Turning this ready-made list of cuts into savings is one of the best ways Congress can regain the trust and confidence of the American people”, he said. “At the end of the day there are no short cuts around the hard work of oversight and identifying and eliminating waste.” The prepared testimony said:
It is impossible to account for how much money is wasted through duplication, in part because the government doesn’t keep track of which programs each agency is responsible for.
“One of the most troubling things in GAO’s report is the number of agencies that have no idea just how much taxpayer money they are spending on their programs,” said House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). He has sponsored legislation , the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, that would require the government to better track spending data from Congress to an agency to its ultimate recipient. The bill has passed the House 388-1 last year and waiting for a vote from the Senate.
The agencies in question will object. Every agency in question will feel their slice of the pie is more important, and losing budget and personnel diminishes the agency. Bureaucracies always have empire-builders in their ranks. They just are not often recognized, because they have been good at telling their superiors how necessary that budget and that staff are to the good of the nation.
Many of GAO’s recommendations deal with some of the most complex and challenging areas across the federal government,” said Beth Cobert, the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, in a statement. “Fully addressing them is a long-term process that in many cases will take years to implement.”
Uh huh. Shine a spotlight on them and see what happens to the dark corners. Last year, the GAO reported that the two main groups responsible for POW/MIA issues were “unable to resolve disputes” about who was responsible for what. When last month, National Public Radio detailed how bureaucratic and slow the search for remains was, DOD Sec. Chuck Hagel ordered that POW/MIA efforts be streamlined into a single office.
This is what transparency and sunlight are all about. A media that is too lazy, uninterested, or partisan to do their traditional job as governmental watchdog, actually costs taxpayers money. A bloated, expansive government that is more interested in being important and powerful than in freedom and thrift harms everyone.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Immigration, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Making It More Expensive to Hire, Overregulation and Overtaxation, The Great Job Destroyer
ObamaCare is not a popular subject, and as people actually begin to interact with it, it’s going to be a lot less popular. Democrats are desperate to make their stand for the mid-term elections about something entirely different. They have decided on the culture wars.
Today it is “Equal Pay for Women” which everyone thought was dead as a doornail after it became illegal to pay a woman differently than a man for the same job— way back in 1963— when the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed. President Obama is out there again today trying to claim that women are paid only 77¢ for the same job for which a man was paid $1.
Since that is against the law, it’s hardly surprising that the only place it still happens is in the increasingly lawless White House, where female aides are indeed paid less than male aides.
Obama brags about the Lily Ledbetter Act which he claims was to make equal pay for women a reality, but it actually only eliminated the time limit for filing discrimination claims — and was more correctly referred to as a law to benefit trial lawyers (who donate to Obama).
Nevertheless you constantly hear the 77¢ claim. Why? It is a statistical anomaly. When you look at male and female careers, men are apt to do the dangerous or high risk jobs. They have traditionally been in logging, mining, high-rise construction, linemen, explosive experts —jobs that pay way more because of the risk involved. Women are more apt to be secretaries, teachers, social workers. Women frequently drop out of the job market to raise children, for a few years or for longer periods.Women just assume more responsibility for child-rearing than men. The 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act recognized that fact.
The 77¢ number comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figure refers to the annual earnings of full-time, year-round workers. It doesn’t compare comparable men and women, and does not reflect that full-time men work 8%-10% more hours per week than full-time women.
The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) is based on the faulty idea that “It’s Not Fair” in the interest of capturing more votes from women. The bill forces employers to raise women’s pay by sharply reducing their ability to defend what they believe is a justified differential in pay based on merit. The PFA limits the use of work experience or education to discriminate by requiring employers to demonstrate that they are job-related ‘necessities.’ The bill authorizes grants to supporters of the bill like the AAUW for training women in negotiation skills. Men are excluded. It will increase the cost of employing women, and so reduce job opportunities. It will also provide a bonanza for lawyers.
If you make it more costly to hire someone, employers will hire fewer someones. The current theme in the media is the continuing dearth of jobs, the Great Recession with few jobs, why aren’t there more jobs? No one seems to point out that Obama is passing more and more laws and more regulations that eliminate jobs. Whether the Affordable Care Act, the continuing drive to shut down coal-fired power plants and destroy the entire coal industry in the name of climate change, or the simple refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline — Obama talks jobs, but his ideas are that only government really creates jobs. Then we’re back at “crumbling roads and bridges,” job-training programs, and improving education. Same old talk.
It drags on. Businesses I patronized regularly close. Supposedly the job situation here is fine, but health clubs are closing and the biggest ones are increasing their advertising. If you pay attention to new advertisers, you can tell what businesses are hurting.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Freedom, Health Care, Law, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: ObamaCare's Inevitable Failure, The Incentives of ObamaCare, The Way Things Work
I had a routine doctor’s appointment last week. As she interacted with the new computer system rather than me, my doctor said “I should have gone to secretarial school instead.”
So after “Obama’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ moment—his triumphal Rose Garden speech claiming ObamaCare is now here to stay—where are we? No one believes Obama’s lofty claims for the numbers of enrolled people, and the number who have actually paid their premiums (the only point at which the numbers are real) are numbers that will have to come from the insurance companies.
The underlying signs of the health of this dreadful medical law are something quite different. Kaiser Health News published the following:
Janis Finer, 57, a popular primary care physician in Tulsa, Okla., gave up her busy practice two years ago to care full time for hospitalized patients. The lure? Regular shifts, every other week off and a 10 percent increase in pay.
Lawrence Gassner, a Phoenix internist, was seeing four patients an hour. Then he pared back his practice to those who agreed to pay a premium for unhurried visits and round the clock access to him. “I always felt rushed,” said the 56-year-old. “I always felt I was cutting my patients off.”
Tim Devitt, a family physician in rural Wisconsin, took calls on nights and weekends, delivered babies and visited his patients in the hospital. The stress took a toll, though: He retired six years ago, at 62.
Physician stress has always been a normal fact of life, but anecdotal stories suggest a significant increase in the level of discontent, especially among primary care doctors who play the central role in coordinating patient care. Just as millions of Americans are obtaining health insurance through ObamaCare because of the threats of fines, or because their insurance policies were cancelled— often because the benefits they chose did not match the government’s one-size-fits-all standard.
A 2012 Urban Institute study of 500 primary-care doctors found that 30 percent of those age 35 to 49 planned to leave their practices within five years. The rate jumped to 52 percent for those over 50. A RAND study for the American Medical Association found that nearly half of physicians called their jobs “extremely stressful” and more than one-quarter said they were “burning out.” Unhappy doctors make for unhappy patients, and unhappy patients result in unhappy doctors.
Janice Finer, who left primary care to work with hospital patients, didn’t want to have to deal with insurers, hiring staff, and the business of a practice —sold her practice to a hospital. But hospital administrators dictated the pace. She was required to see 22 to 28 patients a day. At one point, she said, she was scheduled to see patients every 11 minutes. But meeting patients’ needs is not just busy work, but it doesn’t generate revenue.
President Obama contributed billions to help defray providers’ costs of going digital. The goal was a national system that would provide the government with statistics for further control. Not happening. Every hospital may have a different system, and none of them talk to each other. Digital records mean entering numbers and words in lots of repetitive boxes, but the old kind of personal, nuanced information that was in a doctor’s note, aren’t included. “Many physicians told us “I used to be a doctor, now I’m a clerk.” Anyone who uses a computer can recognize the potential for error. Typos are a way of life. Some doctors have started using ‘scribes’ —laptop carrying assistants who fill in the blanks and take notes— which adds another level of cost.
The association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the U.S. will be short about 45,000 primary care doctors in 2020 when 260,000 are projected to be practicing. Doctors used to encourage their kids to go into medicine. They’re not doing that anymore.
President Obama in his “Mission Accomplished” speech stressed the objective of the Democrats who drummed up this mess: “We are making sure that we are not the only advanced county on earth that doesn’t make sure everybody has basic health care.” Tinkering and improving are expected to lead to single-payer health care which is the their ultimate goal.
Nationalizing health care inevitably leads to conflicting problems.Government programs always cost more than was estimated — way more. The government’s sole incentive quickly becomes a demand to reduce costs.
The incentive for hospitals and clinics is the need to get adequately paid for their services. Those incentives lead to a reduction in innovation unless it is proved to reduce costs— so fewer medical inventions, fewer new drugs.
And pressure on doctors and personnel is to do more in less time with fewer and cheaper materials. The incentive is also for doctors to leave the profession or for doctors to become government employees. What is inevitable is a lot of burned-out doctors who become more cynical and less caring. Ezekiel Emmanuel, who was one of the advisers for ObamaCare, has advocated disposing of the Hippocratic Oath.
The problem for patients becomes getting an appointment, getting use of expensive diagnostic equipment, and facing long waits for seeing a doctor and seeing a specialist and just getting the needed care. A frequent look at British newspapers’ accounts of the latest NHS scandal is proof of where it all leads.
If health care is free or low-cost at the point of service, the incentive is to overuse medical care which is what got us here in the first place. When someone else is paying the bill, there is no incentive for thrift, which drives up costs and the vicious cycle repeats and grows slowly worse, and harder to change. Incentives matter.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Law, Progressivism | Tags: Callous and Insensitive, Majority Leader Harry Reid, The Purpose of Health Care?
Poor Harry Reid is caught between a rock and a hard place, and he’s not up to defending his position. It’s difficult, he’s majority leader of the Senate, and he has to defend the disastrous ObamaCare policy. Really frightening stories are emerging, about cancer patients who are suddenly denied the doctors and the care that was giving them the hope that they might live, and all Harry can think of is to call them all liars. Callous and insensitive doesn’t begin to describe it.
Now he has dissed a fellow senator, a medical doctor who is himself battling cancer, because he pointed out ObamaCare’s disastrous impact on cancer treatment. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) noted that the majority of cancer centers in this country aren’t covered under ObamaCare.
“Dr. Coburn is very good at getting into the weeds and trying to find something that he thinks makes sense. But I think we need to look at the overall context of this bill.”
When cancer patient Julie Boonstra appeared in a TV ad telling how Obamacare had jeopardized her treatment with rising and unpredictable premiums and co-pays. Reid took to the Senate Floor: “There’s plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue.”
He also coldly dismissed Edie Sundby, a stage four cancer patient, who was told that the plan that had paid out $1.2 million and helped her to survive, was substandard, and would be cancelled because it didn’t fit the one-size-fits-all ObamaCare standard.
Coburn said that under ObamaCare, out of “Nineteen of the cancer centers in this country, only five are covered under ObamaCare.” Coburn said the cut-rate payments of the Affordable Care Act provides for those treatments. “You know, it’s a market,” Coburn said,”and what they’ve done is they’ve priced it where these cancer centers, a lot of them aren’t going to participate because they don’t get paid [enough] to cover the costs.”
During the government shutdown, House Republicans wanted to pass a stand-alone bill to fund the National Institute of Health so children with cancer could continue to participate in clinical trials. Reid called that move “reckless and irresponsible” by those obsessed with this ObamaCare.” A reporter asked “If you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?”
Reid said “Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. [because of the shutdown] They have a few problems of their own.”
I understand that for Senate Democrats, ObamaCare is about power, and more control of the American people. But for the rest of us it is about the American people getting the care that they have been promised, that the rest of us are paying for.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Politics, Progressivism, Statism | Tags: 70.1 Million Signed Up?, The Rose Garden Speech
President Obama addressed
the nation his supporters yesterday in the Rose Garden, obviously trying to reignite enthusiasm for the Affordable Care Act. He announced that 7.1 million people have signed up. His precise decimal point brought wide derision. But the speech was more of an angry pep-rally. How dare you not agree that ObamaCare is wonderful.
The key point came late in the speech: “It is making sure that we ae not the only advanced county on Earth that doesn’t make sure everybody has basic health care.”
He added: “But today should remind us that the goal we set for ourselves—that no American should go without the health care that they need.” He said:” The Affordable Care Act hasn’t completely fixed our broken health care system, but this law has made our health care system a lot better—a lot better.“
Our health care system was not broken. By law, anyone, whether they could afford it or not, could go to any emergency room and be treated. The cost of health care had been declining steadily in recent years, and the decline had nothing to do with ObamaCare, but with new diagnostic treatments, new drugs that made a real difference in shorter hospital stays, preventing major illnesses, and keeping more people alive and in good health. Early diagnosis saves lives.
Democrats rely on World Health Organization numbers regarding our health care, meaningless numbers based on skewed information. WHO numbers rank us low for live births, because we call every birth with a live baby a live birth—including those too small to survive—or too premature— because we try to save them all, with pretty good results. Other countries do not count those as “live births,” and do not attempt to save them. We also have a lot of highway deaths because we have a lot of highways and a lot of vehicles. It’s a big country. The WHO also grades us down sharply because we don’t have free health care for all (socialized medicine).
What the president’s pep-talk largely showed was that he doesn’t really understand how insurance works. You have insurance for the big stuff: house fires, car crashes. Because those things statistically don’t happen to everybody regularly, everyone can pay a small amount which will go to the few who do have a big catastrophe, and you are protected against the time it happens to you. You don’t insure against a leaky roof, or needing new carpeting. You don’t insure against flat-tires or worn-out windshield wipers. The free contraceptives and free mammograms are the flat-tires of health insurance. Adding all the goodies makes the insurance unaffordable, as those forced onto ObamaCare will discover when they get their insurance costs for next year.
Back in the Bush administration, Democrats badly wanted a free drug plan for Medicare. As his price for signing the bill, Bush insisted on an incentive for seniors to, when possible, select a generic drug (way cheaper) than a brand name drug —all things being equal. Contrary to Progressive thinking, Seniors are not dummies. Incentives work. If the cost of your drugs added up to a significant amount, you had to pay the full price (unless you could not afford it, in which case there was government subsidy) until the cost reached another level, at which point they were free. That gap was, for most people, avoidable if they relied on generic drugs, and Seniors found it quite sensible to do so. This meant the Medicare Drug Plan was the only big government program in history that came in costing less than projections.
President Obama announced triumphantly that “We’ve closed a gaping hole in Medicare’s prescription drug plan. We’ve closed the donut hole“— in other words they have eliminated the incentive that kept the Medicare Drug Plan costs reasonably low, and costs will skyrocket. Some triumph!
“Despite this law, millions of Americans remain uncovered in part because some governors in some states for political reasons have deliberately to expand coverage under the law.” Well, yes they did. The federal government demanded that States dramatically increase the amount they spent on Medicaid. No federal help, just a demand that states come up with more funding, and raise taxes or whatever it took.
Some governors said their state could not afford it, and they were unwilling to raise taxes to meet the federal requirement that the feds wouldn’t pay for.
“And we didn’t make it a hard sell. We didn’t have billions of dollars of commercials like some critics did.” Bw-ha-ha-ha. Billions for commercials? Sebelius admitted to $677 million on the failed website up to October, but we don’t really know what it has cost— the work has continued. Hawaii’s ObamaCare spent $35,749 per ObamaCare enrollee— at a cost of $205,342,270. The District of Columbia spent $133,573,927 to sign up just 6,518 people. Cover Oregon spent over $200 million and has not enrolled a single person. Maryland has spent over $125.5 million on an unworkable website and is now considering buying Connecticut’s system.
The law is a disaster. We are already told that premium costs will double or triple next year. Insurers have pared costs back by narrowing the provider list and eliminating the ability to be covered when you travel. The despairing stories of people who have been significantly harmed continue to pile up. Americans must fight back. The president is out fund-raising again today.