American Elephants

They Passed It, We ARE Finding Out What’s In It, and Here Is Some of What We’re Finding Out: by The Elephant's Child

Democrats, in their arrogance, thought that they could change the way our economy works.  “We have to pass the bill,” said Nancy Pelosi,” so we can find out what’s in it.” We are slowly finding out. Those studying the bill explore the incentives and the consequences of  the provisions, and are learning that what was claimed for the bill is far from accurate, and the impact on businesses and individuals is far worse.

—If you like your present coverage, you can keep it, Obama said.  Nope.  The Public Option is alive and well, but hidden. The U.S Office of Personnel Management has new responsibilities, establishing and running two entirely new government health insurance programs to compete directly with private insurance.  The OPM will have to power to set profit margin premiums and terms of coverage.  It is a place-holder for the Public Option.

—It was, President Obama said, to cost less than one trillion dollars.  The Congressional Budget Office has added $115 billion to their estimates, which puts it well over a trillion, and the so-called “Doc-fix” would add $287 billion if Democrats had not put it in a separate bill to avoid its being added to the cost.  (The Doc-fix puts back the money that they cut from Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals in an attempt to make ObamaCare look better —and yes, it was just a scam). Keep in mind that it is a very rare government program indeed that costs less than estimated. The only one I know of is Bush’s Medicare Drug Program.

—The bill will cram 32 million newly insured into already overcrowded emergency rooms.

—Doctors in Texas are opting out of Medicare at alarming rates of 100-200 a year.

—Obama has consistently said that “Health insurers won’t be able to drop your coverage just because you get sick.” It has been illegal since 1997 under the Health, Income Portability and Accounting Act for an insurer to drop coverage because someone gets sick.  Even before that, the practice almost never happened. Rescissions happen when an insurer cancels a policy and returns premiums to policy holders.  This almost always happens because the insurance application was fraudulent.  Rescissions are very rare, and only happen in the individual market which is 10% of the private insurance market.  They occur in less than 4/10 of one percent of the time.  Even then there is an appeals process both internally and outside the insurance company, and there are state regulators whose job is to correct insurance companies if they are wrong.

HHS Sec. Sebelius accused Wellpoint of targeting thousands of women after a breast cancer diagnosis.  Obama repeated the charge.  Wellpoint pointed out that they paid in full for over 200,000 cases of breast cancer, and rescinded 4 policies for fraudulent applications.

—New high-risk pools for those with pre-existing conditions, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will increase health-care spending by $311 billion.

—Those with pre-existing conditions who have been sacrificing to pay for insurance in their state high-risk pools — playing by the rules, and paying 1 1/2 – 2 times the normal cost — would have to drop their insurance and wait six months to get ObamaCare.

—The State of Indiana has said that the new law could cost the state an additional $3.6 billion.  Louisiana has passed a law that the federal government cannot force the state to make their citizens buy coverage, as have 19 other states so far.

—Seven more states have joined Florida in the lawsuit against the federal government — a total of 20 to date — alleging that it is unconstitutional for the government to force individuals to buy health insurance under penalty of fines and prison.  The suit has been joined by the National Federation of Independent Businesses on behalf of their 350,000 members.

—Extending dependent coverage to ‘children’ up to age 26 on their parents’ policies means that family premiums will rise by 1 % in 2012, and an additional $3,380 for each dependent.

—AT&T and Verizon pegged ObamaCare losses to them at $ 1 billion each.  They indicated that they might have to dump retirees and employee health-care altogether. Other large companies have expressed similar doubts.

—The White Castle chain has said that one provision of ObamaCare will cut the chain’s income in half, and jeopardize future hiring and employment.

—Healthy individuals could save $3,000 annually be dropping coverage, paying fines, and waiting until they get sick to buy coverage.  A family of four could save $8,000.  This is happening in Massachusetts.

—The requirement that insurers charge everyone of a given age the same premium, regardless of their health status will effectively deny care to sick Americans who are content with their current coverage.  If healthy people cost $5,000 to insure, and sick people cost $25,000 — forcing insurers to charge everyone the same premium turns every sick person into a $15,000 liability.

— The United States has been home to most of the important medical advances made over the past forty years.  In some fields, America contributes more important innovations than all other nations combined.

Obama could have come up with a law making care better, more affordable and more secure through a bottom-up process of innovation.  Instead he extended the world’s most expensive health care system to 32 million more people.  And he did so in a way that could “dump” more sick Americans than ever before.

This is a deeply flawed and damaging bill that cries out for repeal.


Photoshopping Nancy Pelosi! by The Elephant's Child
April 30, 2010, 6:11 pm
Filed under: Humor, News of the Weird, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

Do we all have friends whose communications mostly consist of emailed  jokes?  I know I do. Here’s one I got today from an old friend:

A 54 year-old woman had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital.

While on the operating table, she had a near-death experience.  Seeing God, she  asked “Is my time up?”

God said, “No, you have another 43 years, 2 months and 8 days to live.”

Upon recovery from her heart attack, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a face-lift, liposuction, breast implants and a tummy-tuck.  She even had someone come in and change her hair color and brighten her teeth!  Since she had so many good years ahead of her, she figured that she might as well make the most of it.

After her last operation, she was released from the hospital.  While crossing the street on her way home, she was hit and killed by an ambulance.

Arriving in front of God, she demanded: “I thought you said I had another 43 years?  Why didn’t you pull me from out of the path of the ambulance”?”

God replied:  “I didn’t recognize you!”

Big Government Intrudes in Your Life, Part III. by The Elephant's Child
April 4, 2010, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Law | Tags: , ,

There were the shower heads, the low-flush toilets, and upcoming before we know it, will be the mandate to use only CFL (twisty) light bulbs.  The latter is ostensibly to save energy, but the only reason to save energy is because of the government’s refusal to drill for oil or natural gas, and its war on coal all in the name of stopping a non-existent global warming and keeping CO2, a natural plant fertilizer, out of the atmosphere which is actually short of CO2.

Liberals are control freaks.  They want to remove all annoyances from life — not things that annoy us, like government over-regulation, but things that annoy them.   Mayor Bloomberg of New York and now Governor Schwarzenegger of California have banned trans-fats.  The only problem is that there is no evidence whatsoever that trans-fats are harmful to anyone.

It’s time to shape up the American population.  Attacks on fast food of any kind will continue.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act contains a little section requiring restaurants to disclose calorie counts on their menu boards.  Envision Pelosi and Steny Hoyer and Waxman and the others all sitting around a table in a backroom trying to decide just what to do about American obesity.  Obviously they don’t often patronize fast food restaurants and have never seen the menu boards behind the counter.

Seems so simple.  Just add nutritional information for each item on the menu.  Picking a can at random from my pantry shelf, you have: Calories, Calories from fat. Total fat, Saturated fat, Trans fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Total carbohydrates, Fiber, Sugars, and Protein, and then there are vitamins A and C, Calcium and Iron.  On the back of my can, it takes up a space of about 1″ x 2″, and includes teeny tiny type.  On a behind-the-counter menu board  it all has to be easy to read from a distance.  Details, details!

Can you spell l-i-t-i-g-a-t-i-o-n ?  Does publishing caloric information constitute advertising?  So you run up against the truth in advertising rules.  Suppliers change frequently, does that mean doing the whole thing over? Can you take the supplier’s word for the information, or do you have to have each item tested yourself?  When all these extra costs are added, can you still churn out innovative menu items?  If you cannot raise the price of the food, where do you put the extra costs?

Democrats have no grasp of consequences. Actions always have consequences, and the consequences have consequences.  Would anyone read the calories on the menu board?  If they read them would that change their behavior?  And what business is it of the government anyway.   This is a huge bomb of mass economic destruction on an economy in the throes of a semi-permanent depression.

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air talked the federal menu mandate over with a vice president of Davanni’s pizza chain in the Twin Cities.  More lost jobs, reduced choices for customers, money that might have funded more jobs wasted, because political elites fail to understand that Americans are perfectly capable of seeking out such information for themselves.

Nancy Pelosi Said Wait Till the Bill is Passed, And Find Out About the Unemployment Implications! by The Elephant's Child
April 4, 2010, 12:16 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Health Care, Statism, Taxes | Tags: , ,

Nancy Pelosi was quite clear.  The Health Care bill would create 400,000 jobs. She also said that we’d have to wait till we passed it to find out what’s in it.  She was, at least dimly, aware that the voters are concerned about jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “This, of course, was a health bill.  But it was also a jobs bill.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared, “It will create millions of jobs and strengthen our economic security by keeping America competitive and igniting innovation and entrepreneurship.” If we ever needed proof that Democrats do not understand how jobs are created, there it is, laid out for all to see.

The 2006 law that created the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit also authorized payment of a 28% federal subsidy, up to $1330 per retiree, tax-free, to each company for each retiree who took part in a company drug plan.  Because of that subsidy, the retirees did not participate in the Part D prescription drug plan and saved the government some money.  The subsidy was also tax-deductible.

The health care bill repeals that credit, which raises corporate tax bills and lowers after-tax income.  Companies must immediately announce the write-downs . Consulting firm Towers Watson anticipates write-downs of approximately $14 billion.  Reduced profits and retained earnings may mean fewer jobs.

A levy on the production of medical devices is meant to help pay for health care. Starting in 2013, an excise tax of 2.3% of the sales of taxable medical devices will be imposed.  The tax is estimated to raise about $2 billion a year. Congress supposedly believed that the health care bill would expand the market for medical devices through the individual mandate thereby increasing revenue to the medical device companies.  The real reason is that Democrats were desperate for revenue so that the bill would be scored as reducing federal budget deficits — something it could not do without some budget gimmicks.

The medical device industry exported more than $31 billion of devices in 2008 to such markets as Japan, the Netherlands, Canada and Germany.  And the U.S. also imports devices.  The hit on the industry is estimated to be about $20 billion.

Zoll Medical Corporation  in Massachusetts, a maker of defibrillators, had a 2009 profit of $9.5 million.  They estimate their tax at $5 million  to $10 million a year.  They employ 1800 people, 1600 in the United States.  They will have to change — raise prices, but the government is demanding that they cut costs — or shift jobs to lower cost countries.  Manufacturers can close plants in this country and relocate offshore.  Medtronic has announced that it may lay off workers as a direct consequence of the bill.

Taxes and mandates and fees all have consequences.  There are a lot of job losses resulting from the consequences of the health care bill.  Unfortunately Nancy Pelosi’s “millions of jobs” and “economic security” just aren’t in it.

Is Congress Exempting Itself From Health Insurance? by The Elephant's Child

That’s the question asked on the Heritage Foundation’s blog.  The Senate health-care bill got the unions on board by exempting union workers from the proposed 40-percent excise tax on “Cadillac” plans — those worth more than $8,000 a year for individuals.

It is not yet clear what the White House’s new strategy to pass health care will be in the wake of Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts senate race.  Democrats, from their public utterances, are dismissing it as angry white men, angry stupid people, and badly misled people who don’t know what’s good for them.  The very definition of denial. What they say in private remains unknown.

But according to Federal News Radio, can’t have federal employees left out of the earlier compromise.  Just to make sure that the definition of a “Cadillac” plan for federal employees is fair, dental and vision insurance would not be counted towards the taxable cost of a policy.  This, of course, includes Members of Congress who blithely exempt themselves from anything unpleasant.

This is such stupid public policy that it boggles the mind.  They probably think we won’t notice.  They really do think we’re stupid, you know.

Astroturfing For Obama! Exposed! by The Elephant's Child
January 26, 2010, 2:02 am
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Politics | Tags: , ,

This is the “Letter to the Editor” from Ellie Light:

Today, the president is being attacked as if he’d promised that our problems would wash off in the morning. He never did. It’s time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can’t just wave a magic wand and fix everything.

It appeared at Politico; the Philadelphia Daily News, the San Francisco Examiner; the Washington Times; and a USA Today blog. Also small town papers like the Los Banos Enterprise, the North Adams Transcript and the Danbury News-Times, and more. Speedy-traveller Ms. Light claimed to be a resident in each area.

This letter to the editor that has appeared all over the country comes from Jan Chen, Gloria Elle, Mark Spivey and yes–Ellie Light, and many more.

As one listens to the Republican anger over health care reform, one can imagine an anti-government protester cheerfully paying premiums on insurance policies that drop you after you make a claim, or happily sauntering out of an emergency room that denied them treatment because of a coverage problem. One can imagine a town hall sign-waver enthusiastically forking over most of their pay to bill collectors after suffering a catastrophic injury, thinking, “Wow, the free market system is great.”

Patterico of Patterico’s Pontifications is following the trail, and readers are submitting the names on the same letters in their local papers.  All pretend to be locals.

Wasn’t it Nancy Pelosi who claimed that the Tea Parties and the AngryVoters at Town Halls were simply “Astroturfing” — just a bunch of people paid for by “Rich Republicans” to protest to keep “tax-cuts for the Rich in place?’

I guess that’s like the union members who got $60 each for holding signs for Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, who said they were there because they needed the money, but they were voting for Scott Brown.  Nancy Pelosi’s sheer gall never ceases to astound.

Yoo-Hoo! Nancy, Harry, Barack! by The Elephant's Child

The people of the United States are trying to tell you something.  And you are not listening!  America has the world’s best health care system.  It has flaws.  There is no perfection in this world.  The flaws can be improved, if not fixed completely, but there is nothing that you are doing that actually fixes anything.

You claim to cover the uninsured, but at least 22 million remain uninsured under your plan.  You claim to be saving Medicare by letting younger people “buy-in,” and then slashing Medicare payments by 20 percent.  Are you nuts? There are many doctors that will not accept 20 percent less than what already does not cover their costs.  They just won’t accept Medicare patients.

Many doctors have said that if this goes through, they will simply quit the practice of medicine. Did you think that a hollow threat?  I wouldn’t bet on it.

One of your most precious ideas is the notion that a bevy of bureaucrats in Washington can look at a bunch of statistics that are only dimly understood, and decide from that who will get what treatment.

Medicine is not a one-size-fits-all deal.  Patients are individuals and have different reactions to medicines, to treatments, to tests.  Doctors learn skills in medical school and residencies, but the practice of medicine remains an art — trying to figure out just what is the right treatment for the individual patient. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal when you have your own Cadillac plan with a complete clinic on call right downstairs. You forget that you are dealing in real people’s lives.

Medicare and Medicaid are already in the red. You’re going to cover everyone who is uninsured by forcing them to buy insurance, cover everyone who has a pre-existing condition, cover  illegal immigrants, promise to cover all ills — just before you explain that we can’t afford it.  Then you try to tell us that it will “bend the cost curve down?” This is simply the grossest kind of Liberal nonsense.

And where did you get the idea that in the United States of America you can plot Liberal fantasies in back rooms, behind closed doors, in secret?  This is not the Soviet Politburo. You are way out-of-line: arrogant, historically ignorant, impervious to evidence and economically illiterate. You are making a mess.

This is a wake-up call!  You really need to pay attention.

The splendid cartoon is by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Ramirez. See his political commentary every day here.

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