American Elephants

You Passed the Bill, Now We’ve Found Out What’s In It. For Shame! by The Elephant's Child

The Department of Health and Human Services is designated as the agency to make all necessary regulations to flesh out the thousands of pages of ObamaCare. The Department has already received and spent the entirety of its $1 billion budget to implement state-based health care exchanges and now it’s asking for an additional $860 million to finish the project.

ObamaCare was sold as a way to rein in health care costs which were spiraling out of control.  It turned out that the runaway health cost crisis was a myth. The growth rate of national health expenditures has been declining for a decade due to better medical care and consumer choice. Health spending has been normalizing toward the rate of general inflation, since 2002. Makes the claim that we need government to put the brakes on an “out-of-control” health care system an embarrassing falsehood.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act  (PPACA) was supposed to improve efficiency through the creation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and better incentives through the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). This was hyped to be a major “game changer.” The theory was that getting doctors and hospitals to operate under a single program (ACO) and share in the cost savings they achieve (the MSSP) would reduce their incentive to supply treatments that did not give good value. Didn’t work.

New research has shown that ACOs may raise costs for privately insured individuals by increasing hospitals’ and physicians ‘power to raise prices. The long-run trend toward the integration of hospitals and physicians in California has had exactly this effect, according to a study in Health Affairs (April 2010) by Robert Berenson.

ObamaCare created an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) that would recommend ways to reduce Medicare spending if Congress failed to accomplish this task itself.  This was the bright idea of Peter Orszag and Ezekiel Emanuel, writing in the Aug. 12, 2010 New England Journal of Medicine. Both these gentlemen in the Obama Administration were champions of the British National Health Service. They pointed out that most of the big costs for Medicare came in a patient’s final years, and often were not cost effective. IPAB permitted an unelected body to make substantial changes to Medicare, with no recourse. That stimulated substantial controversy. But closer examination suggests that the board would be ineffective anyway.

ObamaCare said that the coverage sold in the law’s newly created insurance exchanges must cover a package of “essential health benefits.”The provision was meant to scale back the expansion of mandated benefits that special interests have stuck in state insurance law, and keep the essential benefits package affordable. In December 2011, the administration decided to allow the states to define what qualified as an “essential benefit.” HHS is abdicating its power to make the states pay for their decision to expand their mandates.

ObamaCare was sold as a way to rein in costs, and used accounting gimmicks that were downright embarrassing. 10 years of taxes were counted against 6 years of “benefits” to produce big projected savings. The 2014 date for benefits to begin was deliberately chosen to hide the full costs and delay the impact until after the 2012 election.

Have you noticed the troubling quantity of things delayed, put off, hidden, or postponed until after the 2012 election?  You might want to take special notice of those.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has just issued a new report that reveals that the current 10-year cost of ObamaCare is an astounding $1.76 trillion. That is nearly double the $900 billion that President Obama told a special session of Congress on Sept. 9, 2009, that ObamaCare would cost.  He claimed that the “plan will not add to our deficit.”

When 2014 arrives, the 10-year cost of ObamaCare is expected to be well in excess of $2 trillion.

The administration promised that family premiums would drop by $2,500 once ObamaCare and the insurance exchanges were up and running.  The Kaiser Family Foundation released a study that says family premiums are up by $2,200.

Everybody would be included and no one could go without insurance, yet 1,700 waivers have been granted, largely to Obama’s favored unions and their members, and to a few favored corporations.

New taxes on medical devices will cause a decline in medical innovation. The assault on the First Amendment’s freedom of religion exposes the president’s lie that freedom of conscience was enshrined in law and would be respected. HHS Secretary Sebelius said that a reduction in the number of human beings born in the  United Stats will compensate employers and insurers for the cost of complying with the new HHS mandate that requires all health-care plans to cover all contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacients.

Other than that, those folks with pre-existing conditions who so desperately needed insurance haven’t been signing up.  Higher taxes, higher premiums, more uninsured.  Nancy Pelosi famously said that “we have to pass the bill so we can find out what’s in it.”  We are finding out and it’s not a pretty picture. The Supreme Court case is coming up at the end of the month.

ADDENDUM: According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, by 2020— just 8 years away—the nation will need an additional 91,500 doctors to meet medical demand. Ninety-three percent of physicians said they are considering retiring within the next five years. We are very close to a crisis.

Are We Sheep, Or Are We Not? by The Elephant's Child

Now pay close attention. Liberals tell us that regulation creates jobs. Pause and allow that to sink in. In the endless debate about how to put unemployed Americans back to work, there is one solution —deregulation— that never gets mentioned by the media, yet if implemented correctly, could provide an almost cost-free stimulus of a trillion dollars or more.  According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), the regulatory burden on our economy is a staggering $1.75 trillion annually.

Last October, Barbara Boxer explained carefully that not only do EPA rules protect the environment, they are an engine of economic growth. Somebody has to do the work of complying with the rules and “industries that provide environmental protection” Boxer’s report says, have “created more than a million jobs.” 54.000 jobs will result from tougher auto fuel economy standards, and as an added bonus, EPA rules provide “business with the opportunity to develop, construct and sell new and cleaner products.” Is that perfectly clear?

On September 30, the Washington Times reported that new greenhouse gas regulations from the EPA will, according to court filings, require the hiring of 10,000 new state level bureaucrats to process permit applications.  At the federal level, it is estimated that 230,000 new hires will be required. Liberals don’t understand why federal jobs don’t count. They have never understood that there in no government money, but only taxpayer money. Government money has no real limits. If they need more, they just raise taxes. You see how it works.

The CEO members of the Business Roundtable were in the nation’s capitol just this last week, trying to explain to members of Congress that regulations were a problem that weighed heavily on business. They listened, but they did not hear. Businessmen have been bringing this message to Washington for nearly four years now, but it does not compute.

During its first three years in office, the Obama Administration unleashed 106 major regulations that increased regulatory burdens by more than $46 billion annually, and nearly $11 billion in one- time implementation costs.  This is about five times the amount imposed by the Bush administration in their first three years. Hundreds more pages of regulations are being added to the Federal Register which stem from the dreadful Dodd-Frank financial regulation statute and from metastasizing ObamaCare.

The regulatory burden harms everyone.  Each regulation involves costs and consequences that are poorly understood by the issuer. Neither Congress nor the Administration keeps track of the number of regulations, their cost, nor their economic impact. During 2011 the Obama administration completed a total of 3,611 rulemaking proceedings, according to the Federal Rules Database maintained by the GAO, of which 79 were classified as “major” meaning that each had an expected economic impact of at least $100 million per year. Regulations adopted in 2011 cost Americans around $10 billion in new annual costs. They don’t have a department for getting rid of excessive regulations, nor anyone in charge, nor any interest in doing so.

Maybe if each new rule had to come back to Congress and be voted on before they took the force of law, something would change.Maybe they need a formal committee for getting rid of regulations. Keep this in mind, and next time you have a chance let your legislators know that you are aware of the problem and looking for action. We can’t just be sheep standing around getting wrapped up in more and more constricting bonds. We’re getting painfully sheared, and we need to take notice.

The President’s Energy Policy Leaves a Lot of Energy Out. by The Elephant's Child

In Obama’s big Energy Speech, at the truck plant in North Carolina, he reiterated his usual excuse that “America has just two percent of the world’s oil, but we use twenty percent of the world’s oil.” President Obama’s  two percent is that teeny little red pyramid on the top. That represents our “proven” reserves. It is dwarfed by the mass of oil that we have in real reserves. Sometimes a visualization helps to explain things.  (click to enlarge)

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