Archive for February, 2011
Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius testified last week at the House Ways and Means Committee on the fiscal year 2012 budget—although the question period centered on Obamacare. Sebelius opined that the new health care law will increase patient access to physicians and hospitals, provide more choices for Medicare beneficiaries, create jobs, and allow those who are happy with their current plans to keep them. However, reality paints a different picture.
First, Obamacare will not increase access to health care for many seniors. For example, as a result of the $200 billion cut to the Medicare Advantage (MA) program, insurance companies are caught in a bind as to whether or not they should cut benefits and offer less appealing plans or leave the program altogether. (Read the rest at The Foundry…)
Late Thursday, February 17, the Obama Administration filed an incredibly odd and almost insulting “Motion to Clarify” the judgment in the case it lost against 26 states and the NFIB in the Obamacare litigation in Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, No. 10-cv-00091 (N. D. Fla.)(Judge Vinson). With this motion, the Administration has now stated officially that, notwithstanding the Judge’s declaration of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) as unconstitutional, the Administration does not interpret the Judge’s order as requiring the Administration to cease carrying out the unconstitutional ACA.
The “Motion to Clarify” does not explicitly seek reconsideration of Judge Vinson’s judgment declaring the ACA unconstitutional, nor does it seek a stay of that judgment; it simply says the Federal Government will not be following the Judge’s judgment declaring the ACA unconstitutional unless the Judge issues another order stating to the Government that the Judge did, in fact, anticipate its judgment to have immediate injunction-like effect.
This motion really is one for reconsideration of the entire case and to stay the judgment in disguise, but the Administration cannot meet the necessary standard to stay the judgment. Most legal observers would conclude that the Administration filed this “Trojan Horse” motion in bad faith. Suggesting that Judge Vinson needs to give further effect to his order is an insult to the judiciary’s role in our republic, and the court will almost certainly reject the motion. (Read the rest at The Foundry…)
Several members of Congress, like Rep. Denny Rehberg (R, MT) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R.-Wash.) are offering amendments that would prevent any new spending from being used to implement Obamacare. Good for them. Those are important additions to the big spending bill pending in Congress.
But here’s the dirty little secret: Much of Obamacare is being implemented with money that was already appropriated last year. These billions are already available for bureaucrats to put Obamacare into force.
Denying additional funding for Obamacare does not de-fund the huge amounts it already is using for implementation. That requires additional action.
Even though the last Congress failed to pass other appropriations bills (creating the need for the currently-pending spending measure), that former Congress DID provide billions to get Obamacare launched. The money was directly appropriated as part of the health care legislation, rather than included in a separate appropriations bill as is the normal practice. (Read the rest at The Foundry…)
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified in front of the Senate Finance Committee yesterday about the President’s 2012 fiscal year budget and the status of health care reform. Despite the projected $1.6 trillion deficit in the President’s budget, Sebelius claimed that it represents “the blueprint for putting (President Obama’s) vision into action and making the investments that will grow our economy and create jobs.” Here are some of the noteworthy exchanges the Secretary had with Senators on the committee.
Senator Max Baucus (D–MT) lauded the Medicare “doc fix” in the budget, although he expressed a desire for a permanent fix. The doc fix in the budget is a two-year fix paid with spending offsets. However, as Bob Moffit and Kate Nix point out, the temporary fix is paid for with spending offsets far in the future, indicating that the President is once again punting difficult decisions. (Read the rest at The Foundry…)
The effects of Obamacare will reach every niche of the health care system, but they won’t stop there. The new health law will also have widespread negative effects on the economy, especially businesses, which are already facing growing health care costs and incentives to dump coverage altogether. Congressman John Kline (R–MN) put it well when he said, “To suggest this doesn’t undermine job creation is to deny reality.”
At a hearing held last week by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, lawmakers heard from experts and those affected by the health care law in order to better understand the impact of Obamacare on the economy, employers, and the workforce. The overriding message of the hearing was that several provisions of Obamacare will make it more difficult for employers to create new jobs and expand their businesses. This at a time when the economy is struggling to recover and unemployment is at 9 percent. (Read the rest at The Foundry…)
President Obama has received praise for including a two-year Medicare “doc fix” in his FY 2012 budget proposal, but hold the applause.
Every year, physician reimbursement for treating Medicare patients is scheduled to decrease according to the “sustainable growth rate” formula. This complex and unworkable policy is intended to create savings, but Congress has delayed the cuts for years, since allowing such dramatic cuts would cause many physicians to drop Medicare patients altogether, resulting in severely reduced access to care for seniors.
Physicians and patients need a permanent solution to this ongoing problem. Instead, the President’s budget continues to kick the can down the road by “paying for” a two-year fix only. This is not acceptable. Finding savings to extend the “doc fix” is the right thing to do, but the President’s budget uses long-term spending reductions over the next decade to pay for a short-term fix. Those savings won’t, then, be available to pay for preserving payment rates for physicians in those years—and that’s if they even occur at all. (Read the rest at The Foundry…)
Now—when the House considers the bill to fund government for the rest of the year and seeks to reduce spending by $100 billion—is the best of all times to defund Obamacare. But although it’s a golden opportunity, so far defunding Obamacare is not on the agenda.
Republican freshmen have the chance to fix that if they stand firm again as they did last week.
House Republicans say they are crafting a bill to save taxpayers $100 billion. Their revised proposal would rescind funding for 123 different federal programs and would lower future funding for many others. Yet it leaves Obamacare unscathed. Except for transferring $750 million to a different public health program, the tens of billions appropriated last year for Obamacare would remain available for the White House to spend freely.
Only if House leaders expressly permit it can an amendment be offered successfully on the House floor. Otherwise, Members like Representative Steve King (R–IA) may be boxed out by House rules that disallow amendments that try to go back and reclaim money spent by last year’s Congress. (Read the rest at The Foundry…)
Missed deadlines by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continue to show us the absent-minded way in which Obamacare was put together.
Finishing the health care reform race “first” was more important to the liberals in Congress than finishing with “success.” Lawmakers hastily wrote and passed a book of reforms on our exhausted health care system without taking the time to fully comprehend the negative side effects the law would have—not to mention whether or not it was even possible to expand the reach of government to the extent the law expects. The law gives a massive amount of power and responsibility to HHS. Can they handle it? It doesn’t look like way. (Read the rest at The Foundry…)
Before passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), President Obama made several promises to the American people in an attempt to build support for his health care plan. Among them was a promise that “nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.”
However, since the PPACA was signed into law and began down the long road of enactment, the truth has proven to be the opposite: No matter how much individuals may like their current health plan, under the new law, there’s no guarantee they can keep it. In recent Heritage research, health policy expert John Hoff explains the many ways in which this will occur. (Read the rest at The Foundry…)
States have a lot to lose under Obamacare. Beyond representing a huge overreach of Congress’s constitutional authority, the new law includes several provisions that restrict states’ ability to reform their health care systems in ways that best serve residents’ specific needs.
Obamacare requires all states to extend eligibility for Medicaid to an additional 18 million citizens. This will have serious implications for state budgets, which are already stretched thin by the cost of the program.
The law also requires that states set up health insurance exchanges, for which the rules and regulations will be defined by the federal government. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels writes that Washington “assumes that [states] will set up and operate its new insurance ‘exchanges’ for it, using our current welfare apparatuses to do the numbingly complex work of figuring out who is eligible for its subsidies, how much each person or family is eligible for, redetermining this eligibility regularly, and more. Then, we are supposed to oversee all the insurance plans in the exchanges for compliance with Washington’s dictates about terms and prices.” (Read the rest at The Foundry…)
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