American Elephants

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: , , ,


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

Another “Glitch!” More to Come. by The Elephant's Child

Those who purchase health care coverage outside the exchanges cannot claim subsidies, even if they qualify for them, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — the agency overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Automatic enrollment directly through an insurer would avoid the exchanges — and any subsidies, entirely.

This means that the 14 million people who currently have individual insurance policies don’t get any subsidies if they stay in a grandfathered plan, or if they are enrolled by their insurer into a new ACA compliant plan. You expected any of this to make sense? There are over 20,000 pages of regulations.

Common Sense, Briskly Expressed! by The Elephant's Child

A short piece by Bob Krumm caught my eye this morning. titled “IT’S NOT BUSINESS; IT’S STRICTLY PERSONAL”

Republicans want a delay in Obamacare.  Because of the many significant problems with the rollout of Obamacare, and because he has delayed parts of the law himself some 19 times, President Obama should want a delay in Obamacare too.  One year gives Democrats an opportunity to fix systemic errors in the software, the regulations, and the law.  One year gives nothing at all to the Republicans–nothing–except the opportunity to crow a little bit.

That the President can’t compromise in a way that gives him everything he wants, plus the extra time he needs, is not about business.  It’s strictly personal.

I love it when someone sums up all the arguments of the past few weeks, wraps it up in a brief package and sums it up in a quotable manner. Nice going.


Obama Promised Your Premiums Would Go Down $2,500. Uh huh. by The Elephant's Child

Back in 2008, three eminent Harvard economists who were advising the Obama campaign on matters economic — David Cutler, David Blumenthal, and Jeffrey Liebman — wrote a memo claiming that Senator Obama’s health-care plan could reduce national health spending by $200 billion a year.

Candidate Obama had already claimed that health care costs were spiraling out of control, were going to destroy the economy, wreck the budget, so reducing the out-of-control cost of health care was a very big deal indeed. The advisers took that figure and divided [it] by the country’s population, multiplied by four—for a family of four, and using economist math, rounded it down a little to a nice round number: $2,500. Mr. Obama, delighted, then took that number out on the campaign trail:

And he said he’d lower premiums by $2,500 in his first term as President of the United States. Avik Roy writes the Apothecary blog at Forbes magazine about health care, so with new numbers from the experts working for Medicare’s actuary, he used the same economist math. He took the latest year-by-year projections, divided by the projected U.S. population to determine the added amount per person and multiplied by four—for a family of four. With the best economist math Obamacare will increase health spending by $7,450 for a typical family of four. He even included a dandy graph:CostperFamily

Health care costs have been going down since 2006. New diagnostic tools are in place and paid for. Important new drugs like Statins are saving lives and a lot of heart surgery. It was the president’s claim of $2,500 savings that was completely wrong, but that was the basis on which ObamaCare was sold.

I can make a firm pledge under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

This is a touchy point among progressives. But you might remember that George W. Bush’s Medicare Drug plan is the only government program known to have come in under estimates and under budget. That is because it had a built-in incentive to encourage seniors to select generics when they had the opportunity to, in order to avoid the “donut hole” where they wouldn’t get a subsidy unless they really needed it. Democrats, of course, thought that was mean, (they don’t do incentives) and eliminated the “donut  hole.”

On the other hand, Andy and Amy Mangione of Louisville, Kentucky and their two boys are just the family of four that should be helped by ObamaCare. They recently got a surprise in the mail.

The insurance charges for the Mangione’s policy was going to almost triple — from $333 a month to $965 a month.

The notice from their insurance company carried this paragraph:

If your policy premium increased, you should know this isn’t unique to Humana — premium increases generally will occur industry-wide.

“Increases aren’t based on your individual claims or changes in health status,” it continued. “Many other factors go in to your premium including: ACA compliance, including the addition of new essential health benefits.”

People who currently choose to purchase a high deductible, low premium policy that’s more affordable for them, are now being required to add all these new benefits to their policy. (Even if they don’t want them).

This tells you how government bureaucrats do economic estimates, and why everything always doubles and triples in cost.  (or more) And why you should never believe their numbers.

We Are Slowly Finding Out “What Is In It,” and It’s Not Good. by The Elephant's Child

Further reports on the coming train wreck: Health Insurance rated in Georgia are rising by up to 198 percent under ObamaCare the Georgia Insurance Commissioner said in a letter to HHS on Monday.

Commissioner Ralph Hudgens asked for more time to investigate and approve the new higher rates. Georgia consumers cannot afford these massive rate increases, he wrote to Secretary Sebelius.

For a 25 year-old male, premiums will rise 65 to 198 percent within the exchanges, and for a 45 year-old  male premiums will rise 40 to 100 percent. It seems to involve “age rating” which requires that insurance companies charge no more than three times what they charge younger people. This means that the restriction will lower prices for the elderly and raise them for younger people.

Indiana has announced that insurance rates are rising 72 percent for an individual plan and 8 percent or a group plan.

The Treasury Department Union is up in arms because they are being forced into the exchanges — and these are the people who are supposed to manage it.

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