Archive for January, 2010
On January 19th, 2010, 675 businesses sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid asking them to step back from the health care bills they passed and return to the basics of health reform.
To read the complete letter, Click Here.
Health Care News
The White House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have been in secret negotiations on ObamaCare for a few weeks now, yet the election yesterday in Massachusetts of Senator-elect Scott Brown has sent a thunderbolt from Boston to Washington that may push ObamaCare into the critical list.
Senator Obama carried Massachusetts with 62% to 36% on his march to 365 electoral votes and an electoral mandate in 2008. Yesterday, that same state broke 52% to 47% for Republican State Senator Brown over Democrat Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. This election was, in part, a referendum on the President’s health care reform proposal, and it did not win that referendum.
The fact that this state has not had a Republican elected to the Senate since Senator Ed Brooke in 1972 and that seat has not been held by a Republican since Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. in 1952 is evidence that, even in a left leaning state like Massachusetts, the American people are angry and dissatisfied with Washington’s direction on health care reform. An NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll released has only 33% agreeing with the statement that “Obama’s health care plan” is a good idea and 46% opposed. Rasmussen conducted polls in Massachusetts that indicated that a key to the Brown victory is that 41% strongly oppose ObamaCare and a mere 25% strongly favor it. Even the people in left leaning Massachusetts dislike ObamaCare and they voted for a candidate who pledged to filibuster the bill if it comes back to the Senate
Health Care News
Each time a new study or report sheds light on the Obamacare’s true effects on Americans’ health care, the left fights back with tiresome accusations that the source is disreputable, partisan or “sides” with the insurance companies, ad nauseum.
How many professional experts are going to have to find fault with the House and Senate health bills before the Left and their allies in Congress stop repeating the age-old adage: “Everyone else is crazy, I alone am sane”? The terrible truth, of course, is that these reports are right.
In study after study, a few things about Obamacare stand out. Both the House and Senate bills will impose new taxes to pay for health care reform, many of which will affect low and middle income Americans, not just the rich. Both bills expand coverage by adding millions of Americans to Medicaid, one of the lowest-quality government health programs. Despite the President’s promise that “if you like it, you can keep it,” millions of Americans will lose the private insurance they currently have. And, no matter how you slice it, neither bill will “bend the cost curve” in health care spending; to the contrary, both bills increase national health expenditures above official projections under current law. It’s no surprise, then, that the majority of Americans oppose the big Congressional health bills , with 57% of Americans believing Obamacare will cause health care costs to go up, and 52% expecting the quality of care to decrease as well.
While House and Senate leaders negotiate over the final version of a health care bill, they seem to have forgotten one thing: many of them, including the President, pledged to deny support to any bill which would add to the federal deficit. Until now, budgetary gimmicks have hidden the true cost of the health care bills, but neither chamber of Congress has succeeded at creating a bill which is deficit neutral and falls under $900 billion—the limit set by President Obama himself . In a recent paper, Heritage expert James Capretta lays bare the truth about the cost of Democrats’ health care bills:
• The “Doc Fix.” Every year, Congress must vote to postpone cuts to Medicare physicians’ fees. Suspending these cuts adds to the federal deficit. Both the House and Senate bills were scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as though these cuts to physicians’ fees will occur, which, on paper, makes the cost of reform cheaper by hundreds of billions of dollars. Acknowledging that these cuts will not take place reveal that both health care bills add about $80 billion to the deficit over ten years. (more…)
One year ago, President Barack Obama delivered his inaugural address at the foot of the Capitol, laid out an agenda of “big plans” for his administration, and chided “cynics” who “fail to understand that the ground has shifted beneath them.” One year later, as voters head to the ballot box in Massachusetts, it seems that the ground very well may have shifted under President Obama.
And that ground shift might spell trouble for the President’s health care magnum opus.
In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll released yesterday, President Obama’s approval ratings have “plummeted to 50%, down from 64% after he took office,” giving him an average 57% approval rating for the year and placing Obama “nearly last in the ranking of former presidents’ first-year job approval averages.”
Why the dissatisfaction? For President Obama, “big plans” meant a year of “big government” in the form of the nationalization of private corporations, hundreds of billions of dollars in new federal spending and a massive government takeover of health care. Those liberal policies haven’t sat well with a majority of Americans. (more…)
After a long-week of negotiations, unions have won an exemption from the excise tax on high-cost “Cadillac” health insurance plans. The excise tax would fall on health insurance plans that cost more than $8,500 for individuals and $23,00 for families (the union deal reportedly slightly increases these thresholds) starting in 2013. It is one of the many tax hikes proposed by Congress to partially offset the cost of its take over of the health care system.
Under the terms of the deal cut between Congressional negotiators, union leadership and the White House, union members would not have to pay the tax until 2018 – although this could be extended in the future and further delay union members from paying the tax. This latest deal for a special interest further demonstrates that the push for health care reform has always been about politics – not the best policy for the American people.
If it had been about setting the right policy, Congress would have capped the unlimited income tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance. A cap would have been the right decision from both a health care and tax policy perspective, but President Obama assailed it during the campaign. The excise tax is an inferior, roundabout way of capping the exclusion without explicitly doing so. (more…)
In the wake of widespread public backlash over his eleventh-hour deal to get increased federal taxpayer Medicaid funding for his vote, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has been hitting the media circuit, assuring reporters that he won’t vote for any merged health care bill that funds abortions with taxpayer dollars or has a government-run health insurance plan.
“There is zero chance (of a public option),” he said to The Chadron Record. “I’ve made it so clear. It isn’t going to happen.” But Sen. Nelson has already allowed a “public option” to flourish by voting for the Senate version last month.
Medicare, for example, is the quintessential public plan. Instead of the Medicare bureaucracy contracting with private carriers to provide health coverage, as it does today, the latest Senate bill turns that responsibility over to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency that runs the federal civil service and the popular Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEBHP). Under the Senate bill, OPM would sponsor two “multi-state” health plans —one of which must be nonprofit — to compete against private plans in the country.
In other words, there could be health plan competition on a national level in every state, but only the federal government would field these national health plans. These government-sponsored health plans would have an exclusive franchise: No private health plans would be able to compete in the same way as the selected health plans sponsored by OPM. In effect, the Senate bill creates a set of “public options” that are thinly disguised as private health plans.
The Nelson-Reid agreement on abortion is not the only source of taxpayer funding for abortion. An obscure addition to the Senate version of health care reform that was adopted on Christmas Eve is a gift package with unexpected contents: even more taxpayer funding of elective abortions. According to a new analysis just released by National Right to Life Committee legislative director Doug Johnson, Sec. 10503 of the Reid “Manager’s Amendment” to H.R. 3590 directly appropriates funds for community health centers (CHCs). These funds would not be covered by the annual abortion funding limitation known as the Hyde Amendment or by any other existing limitation.
The funding amounts are huge – $7 billion over five years, beginning with $700,000,000 in the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2010. The fact that H.R. 3590 appropriates these funds directly means that they will not be included in the annual Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) spending bill, even though the community health center money is appropriated by H.R. 3590 to the HHS Department. Moreover, the underlying authorizing law for community health centers, 42 U.S.C. 254b and Section 330 of the Public Health Services Act, contains no language limiting abortion funding, and it is unlikely in the extreme that the Obama Administration would administratively rule such funding out-of-bounds in future CHC grant-making. (more…)
Twenty Republican governors and governors-elect sent a letter to Congressional leaders today urging them to refocus and pass “meaningful health care reform, not hastily prepared partisan legislation which omits reform and saddles American taxpayers for generations to come.”
“Governors of both parties have said for months how bad this bill is for the states and our nation,” said RGA Chairman Haley Barbour. “Now is the time for leaders in Congress to finally listen and restart this process so they can get health care reform right.”
The governors criticized the lack of transparency in the legislative process and called the current health care bills “a lost opportunity to improve the lives of Americans, create a sustainable system of health care and help stabilize both our state and national economies.” (more…)
Health Care News
Yesterday, President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and nine other lawmakers met face-to-face for seven hours to resolve differences between the House and Senate health care bills. At the same time these talks were going on, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern and United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger met with other Obama administration officials in a separate room in the White House. This all comes after these same labor leaders met personally with Speaker Pelosi yesterday, and after they met face-to-face with President Obama in the White House on Monday. Despite then-candidate Barack Obama’s explicit promises to the American people, absolutely none of these meetings were open to the public or televised on C-SPAN. In fact, Politico reports: “Those involved in the talks sought to keep details of their progress under wraps.”
And just what deals were Big Labor, the leftist majorities in Congress and the Obama administration making behind closed doors? How to pay for President Obama’s likely $1 trillion health care plan without raising taxes on one of the President’s most loyal constituencies: labor unions. Specifically, Big Labor reportedly has struck a deal with health care negotiators to exempt union members from the 40% excise tax on high-priced health insurance premiums. By some estimates, the tax would hit one in four union members. Now Big Labor will get all of the big government health care spending they always wanted, but they will not have to pay for it. (more…)
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