Archive for June, 2010
Health Care News
Thanks to a new tax that takes effect tomorrow, some small-business owners will get a first-hand look at Obamacare’s impact.
“The first present we get under this new health care law takes effect this week — and that is the tanning tax,” lawyer and small-business advocate Karen Harned said yesterday at The Bloggers Briefing, hosted by The Heritage Foundation.
Approximately 19,000 “mom and pop” small businesses might be affected by the new tax — and those businesses will likely spend an average of more than $74 an hour to comply with federal tax paperwork burdens, according to a factsheet distributed by the NFIB.
Health Care News
As the Obama Administration’s allies are gearing up to spend $125 million over the next five years to sell the health overhaul law to the public, including seniors, there has been a noticeable vacuum in the discussion over the impact on younger adults. This topic was in the spotlight at a recent event sponsored by the CATO Institute: “How Will Obamacare Affect Young Adults?”
While the President received one of the largest margins of support from 18-29 year old voters during the 2008 election, there is growing skepticism over the President’s handling of health care and the final version of the bill signed into law. Under the overhaul, Michael Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, says that flawed policies are used to fix other flawed policies. For example, for price controls to work, an individual mandate is required; but for a mandate to work, more taxpayer subsidies are necessary. But what happens when the central planners’ calibrations are off? Younger and poorer adults who stay in the health insurance market will be cross-subsidizing the premiums of older and wealthier Americans not yet eligible for Medicare. From the “have nots” to the “haves”—a new social policy. (more…)
Health Care News
Recently, the New York Times highlighted a booming trend toward greater price transparency in medicine thanks to up-and-comers such as Castlight, a new company aiming to create a search engine of health care prices. Others sharing in this endeavor include both public and private entities in Tennessee and New Hampshire, as well as several insurance companies.
Lack of transparency regarding pricing of medical services has often been attributed as one of the factors contributing to skyrocketing spending in the health care system, a concern which drew considerable attention during the recent debate over health care reform.
According to the Times, “The lack of price information in health care has been a big driver of ballooning health care costs, analysts say, because costs are opaque to patients and heavily subsidized by employers. The patient has no incentive or responsibility to keep costs down. But many employers are switching to health plans that require patients to pay more out of their own pockets.”
Health Care News
“I’ve been working to dismantle Obamacare,” declared Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “We have to fight this terrible law that’s a threat to liberty itself.”
These comments came during a June 21st blogger conference call held by Sen. Hatch in which he sought to rally support for two bills aimed at representing “a strategic attack on the central tenants of Obamacare.”
The American Liberty Restoration Act (S. 3502) would strike forthcoming individual mandates from the current law, while the American Job Protection Act (S.3501) would repeal what Hatch calls, a “job-killing employer mandate.”
Individual and employer mandates represent two of the most focused-upon issues on which Americans are challenging both the effectiveness and constitutionality of the health care law, signed by President Barack Obama in March. Indeed, Hatch cited that “there are now 20 states, including Utah, challenging this which the President signed into law.” (more…)
Health Care News
We’ve all heard it before — the age-old saying “Better late than never.” Well, get ready to hear it again, this time from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, regarding the creation of high-risk pools under Obamacare.
The pools were supposed to provide coverage for individuals who cannot get health insurance due to chronic illness. Obamacare slated the establishment of the pools to occur no later than 90 days after the legislation passed on March 23. This past Monday marked day 90, and the pools remain nowhere to be found.
Covering the uninsured and those who need it most was advertised as one of the top priorities for the congressional majority’s health care agenda, so it’s hard to understand how Secretary Sebelius could have overlooked such an important deadline. After all, it’s her job to implement Obamacare.
Click here to read the letter from Senators Hatch and Gregg to the Medicare Trustees to urge them them to release supplemental information in the 2010 Medicare Trustees report “so that the public can caccurately assess the impact of the new health care law on the Medicare program.”
Click here to read the letter sent by 30 Republican Senators, led by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius concerning the increase in funding for high-risk pools by $5-10 billion.
Health Care News
In 1988, Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act. Officials in Washington were firmly united in creating the single-largest expansion of Medicare since 1965. Fast-forward 22 years, and we’ve just witnessed a monumental government takeover of the private health care sector.
But this doesn’t mean ObamaCare is set in stone. As we saw with the Medicare Catastrophic law, a focus on higher costs, disrupted health benefits and public revulsion to intrusive government bureaucracy helped ordinary America over the powerful players in Washington.
What We Learned. The debate on Medicare catastrophic was a refreshingly open process; a civics textbook example of good government in action. The Reagan Administration in 1986 had held public hearings on the idea, seeking public comment from people across the country. HHS staff worked hard to hammer out the specifics. When Congress started work on the proposal over many months, there were lots of hearings and mark-ups. Additionally a large number of interest groups, representing seniors, medical professionals and the health care industry, as well as health policy experts had the chance to testify and offer their best ideas.
How It Relates to the Present. There are some important differences between the 1988 Medicare act and the recent Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
– Instead of affecting 32 million Americans, Obamacare affects 300 million.
– Instead of an open-government process, the health law’s legislative process showed an unforgettable display of congressional arrogance, vote trading and backroom dealing.
– Instead of broad, bipartisan effort, Obamacare was forced through on razor-edge votes, using parliamentary tactics.
– Instead of having wide public support, Obamacare failed to rouse a majority in most polls. In fact, support for its repeal increased after the health care law was enacted.
Still, ObamaCare has the same fundamental issues we saw in the Medicare catastrophic dust-up, which could ensure enough public demand for its prompt demise.
Massive disruption of the health benefits. Before its repeal, the Medicare law forced angry seniors to pay more for a government-designed benefit that they did not want or need. In the case of Obamacare, millions of Americans will see their existing employment-based health insurance coverage disappear. The only debate is how many millions will be pushed out of their current plans.
Inaccurate claims of fiscal responsibility. The ill-fated Medicare law’s projected costs at passage doubled within 12 months. The new health reform law is following suit. The Congressional Budget Office recently revised its 10-year cost estimate from a $143 billion deficit reduction to an additional $115 billion cost. The new law also is expected to increase insurance premiums, taxes for the middle class and overall health care spending.
An explosion of federal bureaucracy. When Congress enacted the Medicare catastrophic law, HHS bureaucracy was tasked with implementation. Just the electronic- claims processing system would have affected more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide. ObamaCare will create 160 new federal agencies and programs that impact every aspect of our health care services.
Health Care News
At a recent AEI conference entitled “Health Care Reform: An Initial Checkup,” experts from a range of sectors discussed the implications of ObamaCare that are already defined, and pondered the many that are not.
The early-morning discussion revolved around the new law’s impact on low-skilled workers, possible drag on future employment expansion and additional strain placed on state resources. The mid-morning panel addressed the myriad of questions surrounding the regulatory rule-making sequence and speculated that a capricious system of penalizing employers could undermine the current employer based health coverage system.
Representatives from small to large businesses shared deep concerns that the law is setting up a complex and unsustainable system, which does little to address underlying health care costs. In contrast, the keynote delivered by Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.) highlighted a major initiative — Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) — that was created to inject more consumerism into the state’s health care options and address the cost issue.
Each day that passes since ObamaCare’s passage, new and disturbing information surfaces pertaining to provisions buried in the bill or regulations that should cause pause for policymakers. Going forward, states should be aggressive in setting up a health exchange on their own terms that best serves their residents – instead of waiting for the federal government’s top-down, cookie-cutter approach. (more…)
Health Care News
A June Health Affairs briefing on the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) showed just how deep the chasm is between many of Washington’s policy experts and ordinary Americans. At the briefing, panelists discussed the potential impact and implementation of the ObamaCare amidst the public’s uncertainty over the law’s provisions and unintended, consequences.
The panelists discussed three main issues: If the reform law would bend the cost curve down; the states’ role in reforming insurance markets; and the state impact of expanding Medicaid.
Harvard Professor David Cutler said the law could lower costs because there is so much waste in the health system. He focused on the potential for the general improvement of information technology. Following Cutler, Michael Ramlet spoke about his paper with Douglas Holtz-Eakin. They estimated that the new law will cost the government far more than projected, and that it would not, as promised, end up reducing health costs for the American worker. (more…)
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