Archive for February, 2012
The Spanish program begins with an interview with Father Avelino González. He discusses Obamacare’s mandate for contraceptives. Is the “fix” the administration offered a real solution to Obamacare’s constitutional violations? What are parishioners saying about it? We offer our thoughts as well.
The English program also kicks off with an interview with Father Avelino González. Afterward we’re joined by Heritage expert Lindsey Burke to discuss the president’s newly released budget and its implications for education and the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program.
Be sure to click above and listen!
As a Canadian and firsthand witness of Canada’s government-run health care system, Sally Pipes is warning that Obamacare will exacerbate the existing problems of rising costs and lack of access in the American health care system.
At a recent Heritage event, Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, joined other health policy experts to speak on the need to repeal Obamacare. Pipes is the author of two books on the new health care law, The Truth about Obamacare and The Pipes Plan.
At the panel and in her first book, The Truth About Obamacare, Pipes outlined the many problems with the left’s big-government approach to health care reform. She points out that this approach adversely affects patients by creating long waiting lines for care, rationing, drug shortages, and decreases in quality. She explains that Obamacare will limit patients’ options, especially the kind of insurance they can purchase and the providers they can access. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
Since the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate was proposed in August, the Obama Administration has come under intense scrutiny for the rule’s violation of religious liberty. In the wake of the final rule’s publication in the Federal Register yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a full committee hearing yesterday to further investigate those claims, highlighting the law’s serious threat to freedom.
Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, who serves as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, began the panel testimony by telling a story, “The Parable of the Kosher Deli.” Bishop Lori’s parable drew a parallel between the mandate coercing many religious employers to pay for abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives against their beliefs and a hypothetical situation of a government forcing all Jewish delis to serve pork sandwiches. The latter situation is clearly an absurd violation of religious freedom, and Bishop Lori’s story ended with the government rescinding the requirement to serve certain meat products and restoring Jewish deli owners’ liberty. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
Senators Richard Burr (R–NC) and Tom Coburn (R–OK) have just unveiled a bold Medicare reform proposal based on the free-market forces of choice and competition. The Senators’ proposal adds further momentum to the effort to reform and improve America’s largest and most challenging entitlement program.
“Premium support” is at the heart of the Burr–Coburn proposal: a financing arrangement where Medicare would make a generous contribution to health plans chosen by Medicare beneficiaries. The result would be an intense competition among health plans for enrollees’ business, just as there is today in Medicare Advantage, the Medicare Drug Program, and the 51-year old Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) that covers federal workers and retirees. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
President Obama talked the talk but then blatantly refused to walk the walk on the freedom of religious institutions from the Obamacare statute’s mandate for group health insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization. The Obama Administration continues to trample on religious liberty by issuing rules that require many religious hospitals, charities, and schools to abandon the tenets of their faiths and comply with that mandate.
Many voices came together in objection to the interim final regulations of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury and Labor Departments, implementing the Obamacare mandate, so expectations ran high that President Obama would order Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius to correct the regulations and protect religious liberty before making the rules final.
On Friday, February 10, 2012, President Obama spoke to the White House Press Corps on the issue of the mandate. President Obama said:
Now, as we move to implement this rule, however, we’ve been mindful that there’s another principle at stake here — and that’s the principle of religious liberty, an inalienable right that is enshrined in our Constitution. As a citizen and as a Christian, I cherish this right.
Having recognized the inalienable constitutional right of religious liberty, the President went on to indicate that the Obama Administration needed to address the adverse impact of the mandate on that right, not taking the year that Secretary Sebelius had previously announced she would take, but rather addressing that impact within one or two weeks:
Now, after the many genuine concerns that have been raised over the last few weeks, as well as, frankly, the more cynical desire on the part of some to make this into a political football, it became clear that spending months hammering out a solution was not going to be an option, that we needed to move this faster. So last week, I directed the Department of Health and Human Services to speed up the process that had already been envisioned. We weren’t going to spend a year doing this; we’re going to spend a week or two doing this.
One especially peculiar side effect of Obamacare will cause the federal government to begin taxing itself and state governments. This begins in 2014 as the result of the new annual fee imposed on the health insurance industry.
The health insurer fee was created to fund new spending under Obamacare. The new tax hits not only private insurance but state Medicaid managed care programs that are contracted to insurers as well.
Many states contract with private insurers to provide care to their Medicaid beneficiaries. States pay these managed care organizations a fixed premium per member per month. The new tax will increase these premiums, because they will now have to include an allowance to offset the Obamacare fee and to cover the federal income tax impact on the additional revenue added to the premiums to cover the fee. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
The top Republican on the Senate’s health care committee warned on Wednesday that a recent administration decision to allow cabinet secretaries to raise money for political organizations could coerce individuals or organizations into financially supporting the president’s reelection in order to avoid a regulatory backlash.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is one of a handful of cabinet officials who have said they will speak at fundraising events for a major super PAC supporting the president’s reelection. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Bad Medicine: A Guide to the Real Costs and Consequences of the New Health Care Law, talked about Obamacare’s budgetary gimmicks and unsustainable costs at a recent panel discussion at The Heritage Foundation.
Tanner explained how one of the biggest gimmicks in the law is double-counted savings in Medicare. The cuts are unlikely to be fully enacted in the first place because of the impact they would have on seniors’ access to providers. In addition, the approximate $500 billion estimated in savings are counted toward paying for new spending in Obamacare. But as most Americans know, you can’t spend the same dollar twice.
Tanner also highlighted the CLASS Act, the government-run long-term care program currently on its way to repeal, which was used to help make the law look like it would reduce federal deficits. Tanner describes the CLASS program as a Ponzi scheme that would take in premium revenues for five years without paying out benefits, creating the illusion of savings. Tanner stresses in his book, “The CLASS Act may represent one of the health care legislation’s biggest fiscal time bombs.” (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
Once again, Congress is scrambling to stop a scheduled 27 percent payment cut to physicians who serve Medicare patients. This frequent exercise serves as a perfect example for the need to move Medicare away from its current price control model toward a market-based, premium support model. Congress should take immediate action to link any “fix” with structural Medicare policy reforms.
The “Sustainable Growth Rate” (SGR) is in no way a sustainable long-term solution for Medicare. This complex government formula sets payments to physicians for providing Medicare services. When enacted as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, these cuts (on paper) were designed to help Congress meet its balanced budget targets—but the cuts turned out to be temporary. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
If it weren’t for Obamacare, we wouldn’t have this problem. By “this problem,” we mean of course the Obamacare regulation that forces health insurance plans to provide coverage, without co-pay, for contraception, sterilization, and what many people believe are abortion-inducing drugs.
When it was announced last August, the forced coverage mandate contained only a very narrow religious exemption. That meant it would apply to many religious employers who object on religious or moral grounds to providing, paying for, or otherwise participating in abortion, sterilization, and contraception. This result, as Heritage has explained on several occasions, was a blatant violation of religious freedom.
Under pressure for trampling religious freedom, last Friday the Obama Administration announced certain potential modifications to the rule. Sort of. What the Administration actually did was post the final rule without any changes. That’s right—they posted the final rule without any modifications from the August 2011 version that caused the furor in the first place. And then they promised that sometime during the next year, they would pursue a new rule to address concerns about religious freedom. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
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