American Elephants


Look Out! The IRS is Going After Small Businesses who Help Workers Buy Insurance. by The Elephant's Child
July 2, 2015, 5:15 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care | Tags: , ,

Female Owner Of Coffee Shop

Some small businesses who reimburse their employees for the cost of the premiums for individual health insurance policies, or who pay their employees heath costs directly will be fined up to $36,500 a year — per employee — under a new Internal Revenue Service regulation that took effect July 1, 2015.

The IRS is considering an employer arrangement that reimburses or pays for employee individual health premiums to be “a group health plan” that is subject to the $100 per-employee per-day penalty. The penalty applies whether the reimbursement is considered a before-tax or after-tax contribution.  This doesn’t sound like it would pass the smell test in the courts.

That penalty is enough to destroy most small businesses.  This rule under which small businesses that get caught helping their workers to buy insurance or pay medical bills —can be fined 18 times more than large businesses that don’t provide coverage at all.

Under the rule, which appears nowhere in the Affordable Care Act, employers who do not offer a group health plan, but give their workers additional pay to compensate for the purchase of health insurance or direct medical expenses can be fined $100 per day, per employee.  Over the course of a year that’s $36,500 per employee up to $500,000 in total.  The penalty on businesses for failing to comply with the employer mandate is only $2,000 per year. …

In fact, according to NFIB research 14 percent of small businesses that don’t offer group insurance reimburse their workers instead.  They think they’re doing a good thing but they’re walking into a minefield.

There is legislation in both houses awaiting action (S. 1697/H.R. 2911).

This seems to fall into the “You Will Obey” category.  The EPA also goes in a big way for enormous fines designed to make people fall into line quickly. I wonder how many owners of small businesses have even heard of this regulation? Typical Obama administration act — force compliance, issue more regulations, and be completely puzzled about why the economy is still in the toilet — but brag about the success of administration policies in the marvelous recovery.  Sigh.



Let’s Remember Just Why the Affordable Care Act is such a Mess by The Elephant's Child
June 26, 2015, 6:42 am
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Health Care, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Harry Reid glumHere is a really important article laying out just exactly why Obama Care is such a mess. Now that Chief Justice Roberts has decided that the intent, the viability of the Affordable Care Act is more legally important than its actual language, it’s worth taking a few moments to remember just how the law was passed, and why the inconsistencies and internal contradictions were not just predictable, but inevitable.

Obama keeps calling it health care and assumes that he has given millions of people who lacked health care a great gift. But he has given them only health insurance, and really poor insurance at that. The American people did not want it, and it polled poorly. The Democratic leadership, fearful that the momentum was failing decided to rush a bill through the Senate before they left for Christmas 2009.

On December 18, Majority Leader Harry Reid merged two separate pending bills into a bill to be voted on by the Senate….  To meet the self-imposed Christmas deadline, Reid provided only six days for debate. The Senate bill passed on a strict party line vote, 60-39.

Few people, including Senators and their staffs, had time to read the whole 2,700 page bill, much less note any possible weaknesses, flaws, or ambiguities. Reid and other Senate Democrats weren’t terribly worried about this. The bill was set to go to the House, then back to the Senate, then to “reconciliation” between the House and the Senate versions, and then to the president for his signature. Everyone thought there would be plenty of opportunities to make changes.

But a major impediment arose soon after the Senate bill passed. Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy had died that past summer, and the January special election to replace him was won by Republican Scott Brown, who ran as a strong opponent of Obamacare. This deprived the Democrats of their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and meant that the Senate would not be able to pass a revised bill. The only way to pass Obamacare at this point was to have the House vote on identical legislation to the Senate bill, while engaging in legally dubious procedural maneuvering. And that’s what the Democrats did.

They passed the bill as is and a separate reconciliation bill with minor changes, eliminating some of the most obvious flaws, but leaving the rest intact. So they passed a Senate Bill that nobody wanted and that no one had read in its entirety, and no one understood. Obama and the Democrats believed that it would become increasingly popular and Democrats would continue to control both houses of Congress. Anything wrong with it could be quickly fixed.

Didn’t work out that way. The people never liked it and Republicans took over the House and then the Senate, partly because of ObamaCare. Republicans don’t want to fix a law that they unanimously opposed. The Court, it was hoped, would realize that those who rush through a mess of  a law that they haven’t read and don’t understand, with no political support from the other side have to live with the consequences. Instead the majority decided that when the law is unworkable as written they should help out the other branches.

So, you blithely promise Americans who don’t want any such thing that their cost of heath care will go down, that they can keep their doctors, that their medical care will be more efficient, add volumes of regulations and taxes, add a vast bureaucracy to manage it all and make more regulations — pay for the new bureaucracy, then add all sorts of gimmicks sure to reduce costs (that don’t work at all) wrap it up in a computer debacle that only the federal government could manage to come up with, and there you have it. Only a Democrat would believe that could work.



Obama Insructs the Court by The Elephant's Child
June 10, 2015, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption | Tags: , ,

obama_-_g7_summit
………………………………………………………………..photo by Marcus Schreiber

For the second time during his presidency, Barack Obama has ventured to instruct the Supreme Court on what he conceives to be their duty. As John Steele Gordon writes in a piece titled “Obama Instructs the Court” at Contentions:

Presidents nearly always come with fully-functional egos. After all, climbing the greasy pole of American politics requires rich reserves of self-confidence. And self-confidence is equally necessary to being an effective president. No one wants a Captain Queeg in the White House. But Barack Obama combines his egocentricity with an almost boundless intellectual arrogance. It is one of the primary reasons his presidency has been so devoid of successes and so filled with failures and disasters. Only Woodrow Wilson comes anywhere close to being in the same league. And look what happened to him.

Noemie Emery points out in the Washington Examiner that men like Obama and Wilson cannot learn from their mistakes because they cannot admit or even conceive that they can make mistakes.

The conventional view of what has gone wrong — that Obama lacked experience, and that first-term senators should be viewed with suspicion — is undercut by the fact that he has had six years of experience, and failed to learn from it. At home and abroad, Obama makes mistakes over and over, with the same result, and takes nothing from them. He disses his friends, placates aggressors and seems surprised that aggressors advance and whole regions catch fire.

His arrogance prevents him from even listening to anyone who disagrees with him.

Yesterday, at a news conference in Germany, Obama criticized the Supreme Court for a decision that it has not yet made. Essentially, he is instructing a co-equal branch of government on its duty.

The New York Times  says simply that Obama is making his case for Health Law, With his usual charm he condemns opponents of his signature health care law as “cynical” partisans seeking to deprive Americans of a benefit that has become an integral part of the country’s social safety net. “This is now part of the fabric of how we care for one another — this is health care in America ” he said in a speech to the Catholic Health Association, who wrote a brief asking the high court to uphold it.”It seems so cynical to want to take health care away from millions of people.”

Their lives are better, Mr. Obama said, “Americans support this new reality.” This “new reality” has caused many people to lose the health care they liked. Families are threatened with double digit increases, and huge deductibles before their new insurance pays for anything. The Affordable Care Act does not give people health care, it gives them insurance, and not very good insurance at that. Costs are skyrocketing. Patients cannot find doctors and are going to the emergency room instead.The Court is expected to rule before the end of the month on King v. Burwell.



It’s All Falling apart. Chapter Five by The Elephant's Child
June 3, 2015, 7:44 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Health Care, Regulation | Tags: , ,

Surgical Team Performing Surgery ---  width=
The euphemistic name “The Affordable Care Act” always made people laugh. But already, it is reaching the point where “The Unaffordable Care Act” is more appropriate. The LA Times reports that large numbers of Californians enrolled in ACA plans are struggling financially under the cost.

Forty-four percent of exchange policyholders surveyed said it’s somewhat or very difficult to afford their premiums. That’s compared with 25% of adults who had employer-based or other private health insurance.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, acknowledged that many Californians find it hard to fit health insurance premiums into their household budget, even when they qualify for generous federal subsidies.

ObamaCare exchanges have a gimmick called a “risk corridor.” The idea was that insurers who made a profit would share a portion of that profit with other insurers. If there were not enough profit makers, the taxpayers would make up the difference. Republicans added a provision that required the risk corridors to be revenue neutral, meaning insurers  would no longer have access to taxpayer funds. But suggested rates for 2016 are beginning to show up.

In Oregon, five insurers on the exchange are proposing average premium increases for next year ranging from 25.6 percent to 52 percent…. Four insurance companies on Montana’s exchange are requesting average premium increases ranging from 22.4 percent to 45.1 percent.

The biggest company on Tennessee’s exchange, BlueCross/BlueShield, is proposing an average premium increase of 36.6 percent, while the co-op on the exchange, Community Health Alliance, is proposing a 32.6 percent increase. In New Mexico, Health Service Corp. is asking for a premium hike of 51.6 percent. The largest insurer on South Dakota’s exchange is Wellmark, and in Maryland it is CareFirst. They are asking for average rate increases of 42.9 percent and 30.4 percent, respectively.

Charles Krauthammer reports on what his doctor friends are reporting on the increasingly frustration conditions of clinical practice.

The complaint was not financial but vocational — an incessant interference with their work, a deep erosion of their autonomy and authority, a transformation from physician to “provider.”

“[A] never-ending attack on the profession from government, insurance companies and lawyers … progressively intrusive and usually unproductive rules and regulations,” topped by an electronic health records (EHR) mandate that produces nothing more than “billing and legal documents” — and degraded medicine.

Democrats have never understood the free market, nor incentives and disincentives, and they remain convinced that their brilliant friends in the federal bureaucracy can fix everything if they just have enough control. They’re working now on a study to determine how much they can narrow the window in which women can get a mammogram, so they can reduce that cost.

They added all sorts of nice-sounding benefits (free birth control pills) which add big costs, and when they are surprised by the increase, try to figure out what they can take away to compensate.



Wait, It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This! U.S. Emergency Room Visits Keep Climbing, as Do Costs by The Elephant's Child
May 4, 2015, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , ,

ER1

The Democrats made Obamacare their priority because they are social missionaries whose goal is to ‘fundamentally transform’ the United States of America, as Obama warned five days before the 2008 election. Creating a massive new program that would absorb one-sixth of the economy and make every American dependent on government for his health needs was the first item on the Democrats’ missionary agenda.They saw it as a milestone on the way to a brave new future. That is the way progressives think, and their opponents had better understand what that means, Progressives are not in politics to tinker with the existing system…They are in politics to transform the way Americans live. *

Emergency-room visits continued to climb in the second year of the Affordable Care Act, contradicting the law’s supporters who had predicted a decline in traffic as more people gained access to doctors and other health-care providers. Medicaid recipients are having trouble finding doctors who will accept their coverage.Naturally, to keep costs down, Progressives have tried to save money by paying doctors less. Doctors are all rich, and health care is supposed to be a service, isn’t it? So, as we warned them, Medicare recipients who cannot find a doctor wind up in the emergency room as well. which costs significantly more than were they allowed to see a doctor in the first place.

“There was a grand theory the law would reduce ER visits,” said Dr. Howard Mell, a spokesman for ACEP. “Well, guess what, it hasn’t happened. Visits are going up despite the ACA, and in a lot of cases because of it.”

The health law’s impact on emergency departments has been closely watched because it has significant implications for the public. ER crowding has been linked to longer wait times and higher mortality rates.

The very grandeur of their ambition turns progressives into zealots. They dream of using the power of the state to make everyone equal and to take care of everyone’s needs. They are going to legislate—and dictate—social equality and social justice. How intoxicating is that idea? It explains why progressives approach politics differently from conservatives. It doesn’t matter to progressives that the massive entitlement programs they created — Social Security and Medicare—are already bankrupt. They can take care of that by making wealthy people pay their “fair share.”Progressives believe that if they can appropriate enough money and accumulate enough power, they can make their glorious future work. …No Republican in his right mind thinks like this.*

Longer wait times and higher mortality rates? Where else have we heard stories like this?  Oh yes, those splendid government programs the VA, Medicare, the Indian Health Service. Happened in Massachusetts Care too. You can’t make medical care more affordable by adding massive governmental departments on top and increasing regulation, like adding a tax on each piece of medical equipment.  Progressives never understand that their “glorious future” has been tried and failed over and over, under various names, that always turn out to be just plain old tyranny in the end.

*David Horowitz Take No Prisoners,(New York,Regnery, 2014)



More Trouble at the VA, But it’s a Symptom of an Overgrown Dysfunctional Government by The Elephant's Child
April 23, 2015, 6:20 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , ,

A Veterans Affairs hospital in Beckley, West Virginia switched out patients’ prescribed medications with older drugs to cut costs, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced in a letter to Congress and the White House. The OSC is an independent federal agency that handles claims of whistleblower retaliation and improper personnel practices. They also found the hospital’s pharmacy and therapeutics committee was chaired by a non-physician. All violations of VA Policy and a risk to health and safety.

Many veterans are grappling with mental health issues, and switching medications may well be a big deal. W whistleblower reported on the corner-cutting.

A March report by the Veteran’s Affairs Inspector General found a Hampton VA hospital failed to flag a patient as a suicide risk, despite the patient disclosing suicidal thoughts to both emergency room doctors and the hospital’s mental health clinic. The patient was found dead shortly after of an apparent accidental overdose.

A federal investigation also is under way to determine whether the VA did enough to treat a Des Moines veteran who committed suicide after seeking treatment.

A December review by the Washington Free Beacon of thousands of errors and lapses in treatment at VA hospitals nationwide over the past few years found several similar instances where hospital staff failed to follow up on suicide concerns reported by veterans and their families, sometimes with fatal consequences.

The Washington Post, in an opinion piece asked in their headline “Why Don’t We Just Abolish the VA?

The men and women who serve in the military protect both the United States’ security and its values, including political liberty, free enterprise and individual choice.

How strange, then, that when their time in uniform ends, we thank them for their service and turn them over to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which epitomizes centralized bureaucracy.

There’s the key point — centralized bureaucracy. The article goes on to enumerate a long list of problems that have not been corrected. The author says “it’s a Soviet-style structure, minus the coherence of a one-party state”. Instead the VA answers to 535 members of Congress, after they answer to the VA, and after they answer to the state VA or regional VA or however the chain of command goes.

A hospital in a mid-sized city or even a smaller city will have a wide clientele who will know how well that institution performs, and if it’s not working, if there are big problems —they will get fixed. This is the big mistake of the hard left political class. They assume that things will be better if they are in charge, because their government will be more empathetic, more caring and more efficient — because they went to the right schools and associate with the right people and because they care. The trouble is that they care about having empathy far more than they actually care about things actually working. Socialized medicine does not work, as is clearly demonstrated by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS):

Over 9,000 people die each year needlessly thanks to the unwillingness of Britain’s political classes to embrace public-private partnerships in healthcare, a new report has found. Far from being the “envy of the world”, the report’s authors highlight the fact that the NHS lags behind many European models in terms of outcomes, and that Britain is far from being the only country to provide universal access to healthcare. (emphasis added)

When the Left’s political class wants to take over and nationalize something like health care, we must fight back. They really only want power and to feel good about making you dependent. on them. They want you to keep them in power for fear of losing the “good stuff” they believe they are giving you. If you are paying attention, you will see that they can’t even fix what’s wrong — even after it has been clearly pointed out to them.

Smaller government that does not try to do so much. That’s why we have a Constitution that the Left despises. Hillary has already volunteered that she wants to get rid of the First Amendment. Fewer bureaucracies doing busywork. Fewer unnecessary regulations, or is it really imperative that every pizza parlor prominently display the caloric content of each pizza ingredient?



Daniel Hannan Warned Us in 2009. We Didn’t Pay Attention. by The Elephant's Child

I posted this warning from Britain’s Daniel Hannan, Member of the European Parliament way back in 2009, about imitating their National Health Service. He urged us then not to copy their system. But we didn’t have a choice. Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency. They drew it up in Congressional back rooms, behind locked doors, and passed it without a single Republican vote and without any Republican input. It’s just kind of interesting to see how far we have come since 2009.

If you remember, many on the right posted this diagram of the enormous bureaucracy that was necessary to administer ObamaCare added on top of the networks of insurance companies and the medical profession. Each of these offices and agencies and bureaus is filled with bureaucrats who have to be paid high Beltway salaries and whose healthcare and pensions have to be paid for with taxpayer dollars. They expected to pay for this by taking $500 billion out of Medicare, paying doctors and hospitals less, limiting networks of providers, and eliminating your ability to get care if you travel. ……….(click to enlarge)

ObamaCare flow chart




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,211 other followers

%d bloggers like this: