Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category
Hillary Clinton has started using the gender card so often that I wonder if she thinks that the only qualification she needs to be the next president is being a female. The truth is that the biggest thing Mrs. Clinton is missing is a heart. This past weekend, Mrs. Clinton agreed to a softball interview with Rachel Maddow. Let’s just say that Mrs. Clinton managed to piss off an entire group of people. This time, she shot her mouth off about the VA hospital system. According to S.E. Cupp’s article, things got ugly pretty quick.
It started when Ms. Maddow asked about the VA scandal. That’s when Mrs. Clinton said “You know, I don’t understand why we have such a problem, because there have been a number of surveys of veterans and, overall, veterans who do get treated are satisfied with their treatment.” Unfortunately for Mrs. Clinton, she was just getting started. Next, she said “Now, nobody would believe that from the coverage that you see, and the constant berating of the VA that comes from Republicans in part in pursuit of this ideological agenda that they have.”
That’s breathtakingly dishonest. It isn’t surprising that Hillary blamed the VA scandal on Republicans. That’s a reflex with her. What’s disappointing is that she deflected blame away from the corrupt administrators who gave themselves bonuses while veterans died while waiting to get treatment. No amount of money would’ve fixed that. In fact, more money might’ve made the problem worse.
Ms. Cupp then asks a pair of important questions:
When did it become politically permissible to either ignore or accept the systematic negligence of our servicemen and women? And then blame the other political party for pointing it out?
Hillary Clinton doesn’t care about people outside her inner circle of friends. Think about this:
- Will Hillary fight for a single mother’s right to defend her family in the crime-infested neighborhoods of her hometown of Chicago?
- Will Hillary fight for veterans to get timely medical treatments from some of the nastiest medical conditions?
- Will Hillary fight for unemployed construction workers who want to build the Keystone XL Pipeline?
We know the answer to those questions. The answer isn’t no. It’s hell no.
This is a presidential campaign. I know that the candidates will play hardball. That’s fine. Presidential politics is a contact sport. What’s beyond the pale, though, is saying that 300,000 veterans dying without getting treatment is the fault of partisan politics.
That’s as disgusting as Hillary saying that she takes “full responsibility” for Benghazi in one sentence, then insisting that she neither approved or rejected any of Christopher Stevens’ requests for additional security.
Hillary Clinton’s worldview is shaped by a visceral hatred of Republicans. This article highlights Hillary’s hatred of Republicans by quoting her as telling Rachel Maddow that “the constant berating of the VA that comes from the Republicans, in – in part in pursuit of this ideological agenda that they have. They try to create a downward spiral, don’t fund it to the extent that it needs to be funded, because they want it to fail, so then we can argue for privatization.”
That’s a glimpse into the stunning dishonesty of Hillary Clinton. The VA scandal wasn’t caused by underfunding of the system. The VA scandal is about corrupt bureaucrats that didn’t deliver medical care to veterans while paying themselves huge bonuses. Further, there was bipartisan support in the House and Senate to give veterans the option of getting treatment at private clinics or hospitals. It was so bipartisan that Bernie Sanders attended the bill-signing ceremony. If Rachel Maddow and Hillary Clinton think that Bernie Sanders is interested in privatizing government, then they need to be institutionalized, preferably to a VA facility.
Let’s hear Hillary explain this away:
An inspector general’s report last year found that veterans in Phoenix waited 115 days on average for an initial doctor’s appointment, while official data claimed that the average wait was only 24 days.
The IG’s report showed that this didn’t just happen in Phoenix, either. It happened all across the nation, which means the corruption has metastasized to the point of being inoperable.
Hillary should admit that.
Gov. Dayton’s latest diatribe is telling because of what he didn’t complain about. According to the article, “Gov. Mark Dayton is criticizing Republicans’ call to abolish MNsure as a way to counter hefty health insurance hikes.”
Nowhere in his hissy fit did Gov. Dayton or Lt. Gov. Smith complain about health insurance premiums being to expensive for Minnesota families to afford. Gov. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Smith haven’t complained that deductibles are high or that the ACA’s mandated coverages are driving up the price of insurance premiums.
While it’s true that abolishing MNsure wouldn’t drive down insurance premiums, it would eliminate a cost from the budget. The last I looked, that should be a priority for the legislature and the governor.
If taxpayers are paying for something and not getting much out of it, then that should be a prime target for elimination. If Gov. Dayton and the DFL insists on keeping MNsure around while taxpayers pay huge premium increases, that’ll tell Minnesotans that they’re more worried about their ideology than they’re worried about Minnesota families.
Good luck for the DFL if that’s the hill they’re willing to fight for. They’ll need it.
Earlier this week, I wrote this post about Greta van Susteren’s prediction of the King v. Burwell ruling. She predicted that the Supreme Court would rule against continuing the subsidies because the plain language is clear that only people who bought insurance through exchanges established by the state were eligible for subsidies. Let’s assume for the sake of this discussion that that’s what happens.
Republicans fear that they’ll get blamed for the collapse of Obamacare. They shouldn’t. They should rejoice that the Supreme Court has struck down the heart of Obamacare. After a minute of rejoicing, they should then announce that they’re submitting a bill that includes the following features:
- The policies that people liked but couldn’t keep will again be considered QHPs, aka Qualified Health Plans.
- States would be given the option of either a) staying with Obamacare as it’s currently written, b) crafting their own version of a health care exchange or c) creating a hybrid that combines the best features that aren’t part of Obamacare with the best features of Obamacare.
- The new GOP bill would temporarily extend the subsidies 120 days so that states and the federal government can put something to replace Obamacare with.
Just saying that people can return to buying the policies that they were forced out of by Obamacare is reason for celebrating. Remember how upset people were when they got kicked off their policies that they liked? I do. They weren’t upset. They were furious and/or worried sick. Some saw it as a matter of life or death … because it was:
Everyone now is clamoring about Affordable Care Act winners and losers. I am one of the losers.
My grievance is not political; all my energies are directed to enjoying life and staying alive, and I have no time for politics. For almost seven years I have fought and survived stage-4 gallbladder cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 2% after diagnosis. I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out: My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.
My choice is to get coverage through the government health exchange and lose access to my cancer doctors, or pay much more for insurance outside the exchange (the quotes average 40% to 50% more) for the privilege of starting over with an unfamiliar insurance company and impaired benefits.
It’s time to parade victims of Obamacare in front of the cameras. Let’s start with Edie Littlefield Sundby, who sarcastically wrote that she had the “privilege of starting over with an unfamiliar insurance company and impaired benefits.” Next, let’s put Jim Hoft in front of the camera to tell his story about how his supposedly substandard policy saved his life.
President Obama will undoubtedly tell Congress that he won’t re-litigate the ACA. The RNC should start the ads described earlier in this post the minute President Obama essentially says it’s his way or the highway. Here’s what the first ad should say:
NARRATOR: President Obama says he won’t re-litigate the Affordable Care Act.
EDIE LITTLEFIELD-SUNDBY: Where do I go to get my old policy that I loved dearly and that literally saved my life? President Obama, will you really stand in the way of me getting my old policy back? Sign the Republicans’ bill that would let me buy my old policy again.
That ad alone would get Democrats wobbly. Even if President Obama would veto the bill, how many Democrats in the House and Senate that are up for re-election would vote to sustain President Obama’s veto?
It’s time that Republicans grew a pair. They’re playing 3 aces like a pair of deuces.
During Tuesday night’s Off the Record segment, Greta van Susteren made a rare prediction:
Here’s what she said:
GRETA: First, some Law 101. When 2 parties dispute a statute, here Obamacare, the Court must first decide who’s right. The Court first looks at the plain wording of the statute. If it’s plain, that’s the end of it. The Court rules on the plain words. If the wording, however, is somehow confusing or ambiguous, the Court then goes beyond the words to decide the case. What did the lawmakers intend when they wrote the confusing language? So now, the Obamacare statute and the words. It says “people are eligible for subsidies if they obtained health coverage quote ‘through an exchange established by the state.'” Now that’s plain. To get a subsidy, you have to be in one of the states that set up an exchange, not in the other 34 states that rely on the federal exchange. So I think the Supreme Court will rule against Obama.
Tons of ink has been used to talk about the Republicans’ dilemma if the Supreme Court rules that the IRS can’t give subsidies to people who bought insurance through HealthCare.gov. I’m not often critical of Republicans but I’m upset with them this time. Republicans have a bunch of ideas that, if put together in a piece of legislation, would be a significant improvement over Obamacare. Sen. Bill Cassidy put a plan together, which is the topic of this article:
Cassidy’s bill proposes a way forward following the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell, which is expected by the end of June. The case will decide whether the majority of health exchanges, which are run by the federal government, are legally allowed to provide subsidies.
Cassidy, a doctor who unseated Mary Landrieu (D., La.) last November, narrowly focused his bill to be a response to a ruling in favor of Burwell, which would take away subsidies in states that are operated by the federal exchange. Only 13 states operate their own health insurance marketplaces, since the $205 million Hawaii exchange announced it would fold and be taken over by the federal government.
The Patient Freedom Act would give states the option of keeping Obamacare by establishing a state-based exchange, or using existing funding to provide tax credits to create Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) for the uninsured, averaging $1,500 per person.
“We are trying to give the state an option other than setting up an Obamacare exchange,” Cassidy said. “The president, I’m sure, will make it easy [to set up a state exchange], because he wants his law to take root,” he said. “If we don’t have a better plan, it will take root.”
If states chose Cassidy’s option, they could do away with various mandates under Obamacare, including the individual and employer mandates and requirements for minimum essential coverage. The legislation would also equalize tax treatment, and require health providers to publish cash prices for services reimbursed from an HSA.
While there are certain to be parts of Sen. Cassidy’s bill that we don’t like, this bill should get a committee hearing. Amendments should’ve been offered to improve the bill. That would prove that Republicans are interested in solving problems, not just complaining about problems.
The American people know the complaints. They’ve made those complaints themselves. What Americans insist upon is a solution. Republicans should get behind this legislation ASAP. Committee hearings should start next week. If a Republican senator who’s running for president starts complaining or grandstanding, Mitch McConnell should highlight that senator’s grandstanding and tell them that it’s this legislation. Period. If they won’t be team players, Senate leadership should make it known that they’ll blow up that senator’s presidential campaign.
This isn’t a situation for political gamesmanship. It’s a situation that demands leadership and solutions. The American people deserve that much.
Finally, a group of ideas isn’t a solution. They’re a collection of theories. It’s time for Republicans to put on their big boy pants and provide solutions. Carpe diem.
This story has been bouncing around the internet all week. The progressive left has attempted to use the story to tar Scott Walker. First, here’s what Gov. Walker said:
We signed a law that requires an ultrasound. Which, the thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea. Most people I talk to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time who’ll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, you know we still have their first ultrasound picture. It’s just a cool thing out there.
Naturally, the abortion industry (and that’s just what it is) is outraged:
Walker’s comments drew criticism from pro abortion rights groups. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards called his remarks “appalling” and said, “Women are very clear that forced government ultrasounds are not ‘cool.'”
First, it isn’t surprising that one of the leaders in the abortion industry is upset. Wisconsin’s law is probably reducing the number of abortions in that state. That means Planned Parenthood’s income has probably dropped. Couple that with the fact that Gov. Walker dried up funding to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin’s government funding and it isn’t a stretch to think that Gov. Walker is Public Enemy No. 1 in Planned Parenthood’s eyes. Frankly, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think Gov. Walker would occupy the top 5 slots on Planned Parenthood’s Public Enemies list.
This statement is from the Guttmacher Institute:
“Since routine ultrasound is not considered medically necessary as a component of first-trimester abortion, the requirements appear to be a veiled attempt to personify the fetus and dissuade a woman from obtaining an abortion,” researchers at the Guttmacher Institute wrote.
The Catholic Education Resource Center responded with this statement:
“The manipulation of language has long been one of the hallmarks of the pro-choice position,” according to an argument on the Catholic Education Resource Center website. “But with ultrasound, words no longer matter so much: The abstract melts into the concrete and the personal. This powerful emotional appeal will continue to grow as 3-D ultrasound enters the mainstream.”
The truth is that Planned Parenthood is upset that this technology is eating into their revenues. Anybody that thinks that Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice USA or NOW cares about anything more than the income from performing abortion procedures is kidding themselves.
These abortionists care mostly about their income and their industry.
Congratulations to Gov. Walker and the Wisconsin legislature for writing and passing the ultrasound legislation and for defunding Planned Parenthood. They’re true pro-life heroes.
The woman who claimed she was dead broke after leaving the White House now is insisting that “everyday Americans need a champion.” To prove her commitment to “everyday Americans,” she issued this statement:
Clinton’s press office left an embarrassing typo in its press announcement, saying that she had ‘fought children and families all her career’
Michael Kinsley defined a gaffe in Washington as accidentally telling the truth. While this isn’t a perfect fit for Kinsley’s definition, it’s certainly proof that Hillary can’t stop making unforced mistakes. A year ago, Hillary’s book tour was supposed to be the pre-launch of her presidential campaign. It failed terribly. The book tour was cut short to limit the self-inflicted damage she did to herself.
After that, Hillary disappeared for an extended period of time. The next time we heard from her, it was at the United Nations:
The biggest question facing Hillary’s campaign is whether Clinton Fatigue 3.0 will set in. Hillary’s team understands that Hillary isn’t popular:
The Clinton 2016 presidential campaign, launched on Sunday afternoon, has set a goal for itself: Showing that she’s likable. Period. Her advisers lay out a theory of the case. At large rallies Mrs. Clinton has trouble charming the audience. She can seem distant and unapproachable.
Put her in a room with a small number of people and it is a different story, Team Clinton says. In more intimate settings she displays an ease and warmth that is crucial to earning the trust of voters—and not always evident when she is reading from the teleprompter.
So, her aides are planning a different sort of campaign this time around. She will be meeting with small clusters of voters in diners, coffee shops and private homes. She won’t always have a prepared speech in front of her. That can be dicey. Candidates pay a high price these days when they blurt out an incautious thought. But her advisers predict voters will see a less scripted, more disarming candidate than was on display eight years ago.
In 2000, George W. Bush took advantage of Al Gore’s lack of public charm. They peppered him with accusations of constantly changing to fit the political moment. After the election, pundits across the political spectrum attributed his defeat to Gore’s lack of authenticity. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)
Hillary is a known commodity. She’ll attempt to re-invent herself again but that’s pretty much impossible. She’s got 100% name recognition. She’s been on the national stage since 1991. She’s said some incredibly stupid things:
HILLARY CLINTON: I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.
The woman who wants to be “everyday Americans’ champion isn’t in touch with them. Here’s part of Hillary’s exchange with Diane Sawyer:
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, if you — you have no reason to remember, but we came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. We had no money when we got there and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education, you know, it was not easy. Bill has worked really hard and it’s been amazing to me. He’s worked very hard, first of all, we had to pay off all our debts which was, you know, we had to make double the money because of obviously taxes, and pay you have at debts, and get us houses and take care of family members.
SAWYER: But do you think Americans will understand five times the median income in this country for one speech?
There’s no doubt that Hillary will attempt to wrap herself in the role of Everywoman and Grandma. The question is whether she can pull off that con job. I’m betting she isn’t that politically talented. I’m betting she fails badly.
Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, distinguished himself in writing this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. This paragraph is especially inspirational to this federalist:
Declining to establish a state exchange allowed Oklahoma to voice its strong political opposition to the Affordable Care Act as a whole, as well as to make a statement that it wanted neither the large-employer mandate nor the individual mandate to have effect within its borders. That was the trade-off. Oklahoma declined the premium tax credits, but freed itself of those mandates, and that was a choice the state was happy to make.
The states aren’t imbeciles that need the federal government’s protection from themselves. They’re co-equal sovereign governments quite capable of making decisions for themselves. In the early 1990s, the federal welfare programs were out of control. States like Arkansas, Massachusetts, Michigan and Wisconsin started experimenting on welfare. First, they got waivers from HHS giving them the authority to experiment.
Thanks to their experimentation, they improved millions of people’s lives.
Another point worth making is that the ACA, aka Obamacare, is an experiment in anti-federalism. Rather than letting states experiment, President Obama pushed a one-size-fits-all plan down our throats. Scott Pruitt and Oklahoma asserted their rights to make their own decision as allowed by the ACA. It might be that Oklahoma made the wrong decision but it’s their decision to make. The fact that they made an informed choice is proof that they weren’t coerced.
In the original Obamacare lawsuit NFIB vs. Sebelius, the Supreme Court ruled that Medicaid expansion was unconstitutional because the ACA didn’t give the states of opting out of Medicaid expansion. The fact that Oklahoma said no, according to Pruitt, made their decision based on the trade-off of not getting IRS subsidies in exchange for not dealing with the individual and employer mandates. That’s a rational choice, something that wasn’t there with Medicaid expansion.
Third, this sort of federal program isn’t antithetical to federalism, it is federalism. As we explained in our amicus brief to the court, this carrot-and-stick approach is found in dozens of federal programs sprinkled throughout the United States Code. The states are not children that the federal government must paternalistically “protect” from the consequences of their choices by rewriting statutes. In our constitutional system, states are free to make decisions and bear the political consequences, good or bad, of those choices.
Frankly, I’d rather trust decisions made at the state level than decisions made by a DC politician or bureaucrat. In fact, it wouldn’t take more than a nanosecond or 2 to make that decision for me.
Technorati: Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma, Attorney General, Federalism, Medicaid Expansion, Individual Mandate, Employer Mandate, IRS Subsidies, King v. Burwell, NFIB v. Sebelius, Anthony Kennedy, SCOTUS, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare
Brian Beutler’s article is a testimony to how warped hardline progressives’ thinking is. Check this out:
At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years. So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works.
As a theme, this riff should have struck a chord with the conservative movement’s myriad Reaganologists.
This, supposedly, is Beutler’s attempt to prove that Barack Obama is the next Reagan. Let’s check that comparison. The ‘Obama Recovery’ is still the slowest recovery in history. It’s created few full-time jobs. Most of the jobs it’s created are part-time jobs. Economic growth has stagnated because a) regulation has skyrocketed and b) Obamacare became the law of the land.
Most of the full-time jobs that’ve been created were created in spite of Obama’s policies. Think Texas, which is pretty much putting anti-Obama policies in place, and North Dakota, where the Bakken Boom is happening because they didn’t have to deal with Obama’s oppressive, stifling regulations.
Any comparison with Reagan is foolish. In September, 1983, the economy created 1,100,000 jobs. For 6 straight quarters, GDP topped 5%. Thus far, the economy hasn’t grown by 4% two quarters in a row. It hasn’t had back-to-back quarters topping 3.5%.
Comparing Obamanomics with Reaganomics is like comparing a small plate of tofu with a thick, juicy steak with a side of hash browns. They’re both food but that’s where the similarity ends.
The economy’s rapid growth in recent quarters has scrambled these assumptions, and now the White House is pitching the Reagan comparison to political reporters in Washington.
What rapid growth? Seriously? Economists will slap down Beutler’s claims in a New York minute.
“All historical analogies are imperfect,” Obama’s senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told me recently, but “people connected the economic success of the ’80s to Reagan’s policies and Democrats also became convinced that the only way to win was to move to the middle. … We want to make sure people understand the policies we put in place, how they work, how they’ve improved their situation, so when Republicans get back into it we’ll have shifted the four corners of the political debate to the left.”
First, there’s no question that President Obama’s policies are definitely to the left of where people are at. Further, there’s no question that it’ll take time to fix the myriad of messes President Obama has created.
Finally, here are the biggest ways to show Obama isn’t like Reagan:
- Economic growth was robust during the last 6 years of Reagan’s time in office.
- Economic growth during President Obama’s time in office has been pathetic.
- Reagan’s national security policies brought the Soviet empire to its knees.
- President Obama’s policies of appeasement has helped terrorism expand its control while threatening most of the civilized world.
Other than that, Obama’s accomplishments are virtually identical with Reagan’s.
Based on Heather Carlson’s reporting, MNsure isn’t sustainable without substantial taxpayer bailouts:
Lackluster enrollment in private plans and drying-up federal funds may force Minnesota to pick up more of the tab for its health insurance exchange. MNsure would get another $11.7 million of state money under Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed budget for technological improvements, a necessary change because public-plan signups have far outpaced private-plan enrollments.
The governor is also recommending the state assume costs the federal government covered until this year, such as $1.3 million over the next two years for staff to review rate submissions from insurance companies and another $558,000 to investigate complaints. Most federal funding has expired as Washington’s aim is to make state-run health exchanges self-sufficient.
Together, those changes would bring the state’s running costs for the exchange to at least $23.5 million since it was set up in 2013.
The only way the ACA is sustainable financially is if a large number of young healthies buy qualified health plans, aka QHPs. According to Ms. Carlson’s reporting, that isn’t happening:
Lawmakers set up MNsure mostly with federal funds, aiming to sign up Minnesota residents in both private plans and public programs for lower-income families like MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance. State officials initially estimated about two-thirds of enrollments would be in those programs, with the remaining third in private plans. Instead, 91 percent of applicants have been placed in public programs, forcing the state to pitch in more money.
That’s unsustainable. Perhaps it’s unsustainable for the short term. That’s even questionable. There’s no doubt that it isn’t sustainable for the long term.
MNsure officials say they’ve altered their budget to put the exchange on a steady financial course, upping its fee on premiums from 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent and scaling back costs. But their three-year budget plan hinges on continually adding more new members in private plans than enrolled the year prior.
Anything that can’t be sustained won’t be. Inevitably, MNsure will be unaffordable. When (not if) that happens, the DFL will have egg on their faces. Republicans will criticize the DFL for implementing something that was expensive to the taxpayers and eventually, unsustainable financially.