Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category
Chris Stirewalt’s column about President Obama’s press conference contains a dire warning to Democrats up for re-election in 2014:
One of the big challenges to Obama’s stature is the growing discontentment over the implementation of his 2010 health law. Democrats who got spanked in that year’s Midterm Elections are worried about a repeat performance in 2014 as the most unpopular provisions of the law go into place.
Even Democrats who helped build the bill are pointing their fingers at the administration, saying that the chaotic implementation of the law and its ongoing unpopularity are the fault of the president and his team. And calling the implementation a “train wreck” is kind compared to what Democrats say about the law behind closed doors.
The DCCC and the DSCC will instruct their incumbents to talk about the administration’s implementation of the ACA. That won’t help, though, because these Democrats voted for the bill. That won’t help because people still hate the bill:
In a FOX News poll out today, a sturdy, substantial majority still want the law repealed. And get this: 71 percent of all voters, including 56 percent of Democrats, said the regulations in the law are “way over the top.”
The supposedly good stuff in the ACA has been implemented. The employer mandate tax and the individual mandate tax haven’t kicked in. The vast majority of people (71%) polled say the ACA’s regulations are “way over the top” even though they’re only partially implemented.
If Democrats think they’re going to retake the House and keep the Senate while running with the ACA millstone tied around their necks, they’re as delusional as Tom Bakk is inept. What will their pitch be? “Vote for me and I’ll fix the mess I created”? Or would their pitch be “Vote for me because insurance rates are skyrocketing”?
I know what the NRSC’s pitch will be:
Now that Jim Graves has officially announced that he’s running against Michele Bachmann, people wonder if he can defeat her. John Stossel’s article highlights Graves’ weakness:
Most Americans, even those who are legislators, know very little about the details of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, so-called Obamacare. Next year, when it goes into effect, we will learn the hard way.
Many people lazily assume that the law will do roughly what it promises: give insurance to the uninsured and lower the cost of health care by limiting spending on dubious procedures.
Don’t count on it.
Consider just the complexity: The act itself is more than 906 pages long, and again and again in those 906 pages are the words, “the Secretary shall promulgate regulations …”
“Secretary” refers to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. Her minions have been busy. They’ve already added 20,000 pages of rules. They form a stack 7 feet high, and more are to come.
A couple of weeks after announcing his candidacy last time, Graves made an appearance at a weekly gathering at a St. Cloud bar to visit with conservatives. During that visit, he stopped past my table, at which time I asked him if he supported the PPACA. Though he stopped short of endorsing that specific legislation, he did attempt to sell the ACA as market-driven health insurance reform. More on that later.
The thing is that legislators don’t vote on sweeping principles. Legislators vote on specific legislation. Since there’s no chance that Graves would’ve been one of the legislators shaping the legislation, he would’ve been forced to vote yea or nay on the ACA.
Thanks to Graves’ insistence on not getting pinned down to anything, we don’t know if he would’ve voted for the PPACA. What we know, though, is that he’s attempting to not talk about the ACA. His issues page includes this line:
But today, too many Minnesotan families are struggling under the weight of rising home mortgage payments, skyrocketing health care costs and increasing college tuition.
The only other reference to health care on Jim Graves’ issues page is about the Medicare Part D doughnut hole. I don’t blame Graves for evading the issue. If I were a Democrat, I’d want to evade talking about health care. Stossel’s article provides the reason why the PPACA is a touchy subject for Democrats:
Government likes to think regulations can account for every possibility. Injured at a chicken coop? The code for that will be Y9272. Fall at an art gallery? That means you are a Y92250. There are three different codes for walking into a lamppost — depending on how often you’ve walked into lampposts. This is supposed to give government a more precise way to reimburse doctors for treating people and alert us to surges in injuries that might inspire further regulation.
On Government-Planned World, this makes sense. But it will be no more successful than Soviet central planning.
Compare all that to a tiny part of American medicine that is still free-market: Lasik eye surgery.
Its quality has improved, while costs dropped 25 percent. Lasik (and cosmetic surgery) are specialties that provide a better consumer experience because they are a market. Patients pay directly, so doctors innovate constantly to please them. Lasik doctors even give patients their cellphone numbers.
Mr. Graves isn’t foolish. He knows what constitutes a free market. He knows that the ACA is the opposite of a free market solution.
Michele Bachmann has been right about this issue from the outset. She submitted the first bill to repeal the ACA and replace it with a specific plan. Michele’s plan included eliminating the preferential tax treatment for corporations buying health insurance by giving individuals the same tax treatment that multinational corporations get. As a result of that provision, Michele’s plan made health care portable, which is a huge liberating force for employees.
While we don’t know what Graves’ solution to health care is, we know with certainty that Michele got it right with health insurance reform the first time. When Democrats are in the minority, talk immediately focuses on compromise. Minnesotans in the Sixth District have the choice of voting for an evasive man or voting for someone who got health care reform right the first time.
With health insurance premiums skyrocketing since enacting the PPACA, why would Minnesotans vote for someone who dodges the issue? Why wouldn’t they vote for the candidate who got it right the first time?
Today, Jim Graves made it official today by announcing that he’s running against Michele Bachmann again:
In a statement, the AmericInn Hotel chain founder took a veiled jab at his opponent’s national reputation as a lightning rod. “These days, Congress is all about scoring political points rather than actually solving problems, and Minnesota’s 6th District, my home, is losing out because of that more than anywhere,” he said. ”I’m not interested in celebrity, only in solutions.”
That last statement is rather rich considering the fact that Graves told me that he thinks the PPACA is a free market solution to our health care problem. The PPACA is a one-size-fits-all disaster. First, it isn’t a solution. Second, it’s an expensive disaster that’s getting worse with each new onslaught of regulations.
If Graves can’t even identify a disastrous policy like the PPACA, then he’s worthless. Getting the biggest things badly wrong isn’t a virtue. His happy talk about being a new Democrat is BS. New Democrats don’t attend fundraisers hosted by Barney Frank, one of the men who caused the housing bubble to burst. New Democrats don’t defend the PPACA, which Graves tried doing with me.
Graves’ schtick is spin. That doesn’t mean people should take him lightly. He came close to defeating Michele in 2012. Then again, that’s largely because of high voter turnout durning a presidential election and because Michele focused a bunch of attention on her presidential campaign.
Since getting re-elected, Michele Bachmann has focused on solving major problems in the district, including working on widening the I-94 and Highway 10 corridors, not to mention her work in getting the Stillwater Bridge rebuilt.
Another big question awaiting is whether Nancy Pelosi will let Jim Graves be a centrist. She’ll let him talk like a centrist during the campaign. The question is how long that’d last if he’s elected. If he’s elected, Pelosi would likely have a slim majority in the House, meaning she’ll need every Democrat’s vote on the big issue.
Graves will run another dishonest campaign this cycle because that’s his only shot at winning. Make no mistake: Jim Graves won’t hesitate in hitting below the belt if that’s what’s needed. We know that because it’s what he’s done in the past. Graves got a bunch of union workers to lie for him during a campaign ad. These displaced union workers accused Michele of political grandstanding and not giving a damn about them. KSTP ran Graves’ ad through their Truth Test:
Bachmann was in the district on Memorial Day weekend in Stillwater attending events when the explosion happened but didn’t go to the scene. However, a Bachmann staff member was there within an hour.
I know the Bachmann staffer who got to the Verson site within an hour of the explosion happening. Jim Graves didn’t care about this extraordinary performance. He had his sights set on winning an election. If he had to accuse Michele of not giving a damn, that’s what he’d do. If that meant ignoring the facts on the ground, New Democrat Jim Graves wasn’t about to hesitate in putting that disgusting, dishonest ad together.
Tags: Jim Graves, Smear Campaign, Barney Frank, Housing Bubble, Nancy Pelosi, PPACA, Regulations, New Democrat, Michele Bachmann, I-94, Highway 10, Stillwater Bridge, Transportation, MNGOP, Election 2014
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson’s op-ed points the finger at Gov. Dayton’s (lack of) leadership, highlighting Gov. Dayton’s mistake-filled push for a Vikings stadium. Commissioner Johnson’s criticism is harsh but justified. First, Commissioner Johnson lets Gov. Dayton hang himself with his own words:
If you had followed the stadium debate in the media and had listened to Gov. Mark Dayton standing next to NFL dignitaries extolling “Purple Prosperity,” you might have thought the stadium legislation was all about cutting the best deal for the people of Minnesota. Again, you’d be wrong, but let’s allow the governor to explain it to you:
“Unless somebody can prove conclusively otherwise, I would say everybody, the Gambling Control Board, the Department of Revenue, the Legislature, Republicans and Democrats, and my administration, everybody acted in good faith, and has applied their best judgment to a totally unprecedented situation,” Dayton told the Star Tribune.
“The Legislature, if they misunderstood the situation, they have no one to blame but themselves. And I have no one to blame but myself,” he added.
It’s true that some GOP legislators voted for the Vikings stadium bill. They’ve had to reconcile their votes with their constituents. Some didn’t win re-election as a result of that vote. With the exception of Julie Rosen and Morrie Lanning, though, these legislators didn’t push for the Vikings stadium. They didn’t put the funding mechanism together. The legislator that put that mess together, Sen. Bakk, and the ‘leader’ that pushed the deal, Gov. Dayton, are the people who have the most responsibility for this disaster.
Gov. Dayton’s recklessness extends into pushing this deal without verifying the trustworthiness of the funding mechanism. That’s downright irresponsible.
Commissioner Johnson doesn’t stop there, though:
“You have to turn to somebody who has some knowledge and expertise,” Dayton said. “I don’t know what caused it to go awry,” he added. “I know we’re going to work to correct it.”
“We’re going to work to correct it.”
How often do we hear that phrase echoed by a government official after government has embarked on some “good faith” experiment into “uncharted territory” with taxpayer money?
“We’re going to work to correct it.”
And who’s going to do all that working and correcting? Dayton and his administration, the ones who gave us the Vikings stadium mess in the first place.
What could possibly go wrong?
This isn’t a good faith mistake. It’s a decision *made to give Gov. Dayton a high profile political victory heading into his re-election campaign. That failed miserably. Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton isn’t satisfied with just pushing through a disastrous Vikings stadium bill. He’s now moved onto bigger, more destructive things:
The governor who engineered the Vikings stadium deal has now turned his attention to engineering a state-run health insurance exchange that will dramatically change the way Minnesotans purchase health care.
The governor who didn’t know the stadium legislation allowed the Vikings to charge seat licensing fees to cover a portion of the team’s contribution is crafting an exchange that will detail the mandatory benefits of insurance policies allowed in it.
The governor who accepted revenue estimates on electronic pulltabs that ended up being embarrassingly wrong is now estimating the cost of a state-run health exchange.
The governor who relied on gambling interests to advise him on gambling expansion is now relying on federal bureaucrats to advise him on government health care expansion.
What could possibly go wrong?
Just about everything might go wrong. The ACA is a disastrous piece of legislation. The Health Insurance Exchange, aka the HIX, is one of the things in the ACA that makes it a disaster. The ACA is administered by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a woman who doesn’t have a clue about how insurance was designed to work:
This is why you should always have liability insurance, but should think twice about collision damage coverage. It’s why high deductibles are a good idea; for small expenses, it’s better to self insure. And it’s why “catastrophic” health plans, which only cover the sort of extremely expensive events that most people would have difficulty financing, are a much better deal than the soup-to-nuts plans that most people get through their employers. Those plans are expensive, both because they’re paying for a higher percentage of your expenses, and because they drive up utilization, which means that they drive up next year’s premiums even more. Imagine what your car insurance would cost if it covered gasoline, routine maintenance, and those little air freshener trees you hang from the rearview mirror. Then stop asking why health insurance costs so much.
Minnesota’s HIX will require tons of different coverages, with each driving up the cost of the average health insurance policy. It’s already predictable what will happen when insurance premiums rise. Gov. Dayton will tell Minnesotans that it was a good faith mistake.
This time, though, Republicans didn’t vote for the HIX. This time, Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk, Speaker Thissen and the DFL own the coming HIX disaster lock, stock and barrel.
The point is that Minnesotans can’t afford more of Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s good faith mistakes. Their “good faith mistakes” are putting Minnesotans into a terrible bind financially.
Next election, Minnesotans should vote for people who get things right the first time rather than voting for people who will “work to correct” a litany of “good faith mistakes.”
Tags: Mark Dayton, Paul Thissen, Tom Bakk, Minnesota Vikings Stadium, Electronic Pulltabs, State Gambling Board, Gambling Expansion, Health Insurance Exchange, Kathleen Sebelius, HHS Secretary, PPACA, DFL, Jeff Johnson, Hennepin County Commissioner, RNC, Election 2014
When Republicans took control of the Minnesota legislature, Minnesota had a $6,000,000,000 deficit. Thanks in large part to GOP reforms, Minnesota was able to erase that deficit without raising taxes. This morning, the final budget forecast was released. Here’s what it said:
For the coming fiscal cycle, which begins in July and lasts through 2015, the state’s deficit will be $627 million. Both are improvements over estimates from late last year. In November, economists predicted the state would have to grapple with a $1.1 billion deficit over the next two years.
That’s the headline information. Here’s the important information found further down in the article:
it also shows slight dips in projected spending, with the biggest savings coming from health and human services spending. “Savings from negotiated reductions in managed care rates for elderly and disabled basic care, adults without children, and families with children, as well as an increase in pharmacy rebates in (fiscal year) 2014-15 contributed to the reductions,” it says.
That’s another way of saying that the reforms authored by former Rep. Steve Gottwalt saved Minnesota taxpayers a significant chunk of money. The question no longer is whether Republican reforms worked. The question now shifts to being whether Gov. Dayton and the DFL legislature will significantly depart from the GOP budget blueprint. Based on Gov. Dayton’s budget and the bills getting committee hearings thus far, the answer to that question is apparently yes.
If passed as is, Gov. Dayton’s tax increase proposals will significantly hurt economic growth:
Dayton has proposed the most extensive rewriting of the state’s tax code in a generation. It would increase state taxes by $2.1 billion over the next two years, with top earners and businesses paying the brunt of the costs.
His budget would increase state spending from $35.2 billion in the current two-year cycle to $37.8 billion in the 2014-15 biennium. That’s a 7.6 percent increase.
The governor has said the state needs the extra money to erase a budget deficit, provide more money for education and property tax relief and stabilize future state budgets.
The biggest change he called for would broaden the sales tax base to include haircuts, car repairs, expensive clothes and, stirring the most controversy, business-to-business services, such as advertising, accounting and legal work that are not taxed now. In exchange, he would lower the sales tax rate from 6.875 percent to 5.5 percent.
Missing from that final paragraph is the fact that smaller cities, especially those that don’t get LGA, will get hit hardest by Gov. Dayton’s sales tax increase. Cities like Sauk Rapids and Sartell have attorneys from local law first on retainer, not on staff. The Dayton/Lenczewski/DFL tax increase bill, in its current form, would devastate smaller cities like Sauk Rapids, Sartell, Foley, St. Joe and Cold Spring.
It’s time to tell DFL legislators representing DFL legislators that it isn’t ok to vote for higher property taxes for small cities in rural Minnesota.
Tagsmaller Minnesota cities that they’ll lose their jobs if they vote for this sales tax increase. It’s time to tell these s: Mark Dayton, Tax Increases, Sales Taxes, Sartell, Sauk Rapids, Cold Spring, Foley, Property Taxes, Deficits, DFL, Steve Gottwalt, HHS Reform, Spending Restraint, MNGOP
This Politico article says that Chris Christie hurt his chances at becoming the GOP presidential nominee in 2016 because he’s expanding Medicaid. That’s being charitable.
New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s reversal on accepting the Obamacare Medicaid expansion was a political no-brainer for a politician running for re-election in a blue state this year.
But the move has uncertain implications for Christie as a potential 2016 contender who is already taking darts from some conservatives over his bona fides.
Actually, this is exceptionally straightforward. Gov. Christie won’t be the GOP presidential nominee. Ever. The GOP rank-and-file, like the nation, despises the Affordable Care Act. Expanding Medicaid won’t make health care more affordable. It’s making health care more expensive. While there’s little doubt that Gov. Christie will cruise to re-election as governor of New Jersey, there’s no doubt that his thumbing his nose, again, at the GOP base on one of its core values has essentially ended his presidential aspirations.
Dandy Don Meredith put it best:
Rep. Ellison got feisty when Sean Hannity confronted him about President Obama insisting on the sequestration cuts or tax hikes. Watch Rep. Ellison’s faux outrage in this video:
Here’s the key part of Rep. Ellison’s faux diatribe:
For you to say that the President is to blame is ridiculous. I was there in August, 2011 when the Republicans, your party which you shamelessly (CROSSTALK) What the President said is absolutely true. The people should ignore everything you said.
After Rep. Ellison attempted to filibuster Hannity, Hannity finally got a word in edgewise. Here’s what Hannity said:
First, it was Max Baucus and Bob Woodward who said that sequestration was President Obama’s idea.
This video verifies Hannity’s statement:
There’s something important that isn’t being discussed by the major media outlets, namely that President Obama and Rep. Ellison are fighting for the third tax hike in 2 months. The tax increases that were part of the Affordable Care Act took effect on Jan. 1, 2013. President Obama’s tax hike on small businesses took effect less than a week later. Rep. Ellison enthusiastically voted for both of those tax hikes.
In fact, Rep. Ellison has never voted against raising taxes, either when he served in the Minnesota legislature or in the US House of Representatives. Likewise, President Obama has never voted against raising taxes, either as part of the Illinois Senate or the US Senate.
The question that the media hasn’t asked of Rep. Ellison is simple: Rep. Ellison, why do you hate the US economy this much?
It’s one thing to fight for a tax increase. It’s another thing to fight for progressive tax increase days after a regressive tax hike goes into effect. It’s totally irresponsible to fight for regressive tax increases, then fighting for raising progressive tax rates, then insisting on “closing loopholes” without cutting tax rates.
That isn’t proof of economic illiteracy on Rep. Ellison’s part. It’s proof of Rep. Ellison’s economic stupidity or economic dishonesty.
When President Obama took office in 2009, he could legitimately say that the recession started under President Bush. That isn’t the case now that the economy shrunk in Q4 of 2012:
WASHINGTON—U.S. economic momentum screeched to a halt in the final months of 2012, as businesses pared back inventories and government spending fell sharply, while lawmakers struggled to reach a deal on tax increases and budget cuts.
The nation’s gross domestic product shrank for the first time in three and a half years during the fourth quarter, declining at an annual rate of 0.1% between October and December, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
Conservative analysts have half-kiddingly said that the mess he inherited on Inauguration Day, 2013 is worse than the mess he inherited in 2009.
President Obama’s anti-capitalist policies have crippled several industries, including the natural gas and coal mining industries, the health care industry and community banks. President Obama’s chickens have come home to roost.
If history were to be written today would note that he was the biggest foreign policy/national security president since Jimmy Carter and the worst economic president since Herbert Hoover.
The Affordable Care Act is crippling the economy with its tax increases:
Boston Scientific said this morning that it is planning to cut more jobs, nearly doubling the restructuring it started in 2011.
The company expects the new round of cuts to range from 900 to 1,000 positions, including layoffs as well as the elimination of unfilled positions.
This is a continuation of the Affordable Care Act employment cuts. Thanks to the ACA’s onslaught of tax increases, companies like Boston Scientific are eliminating jobs to maintain profitability.
The sad part is that the Obama economic disaster continues, meaning more families will get hurt.
One of the nicknames that the St. Cloud Times has acquired throughout the years is the St. Cloud SomeTimes. After reading this Our View op-ed in the SC Times, it appears they need a new nickname. I propose that new nickname be the ‘Behind the Times’ for obvious reasons. Here’s part of the Times’ hatchet piece:
St. Cloud-area Rep. Steve Gottwalt is under some scrutiny in the wake of a Minnesota Public Radio news report last week that highlighted the reasonable public perception of a potential conflict of interest involving his private business dealings and his powerful legislative role in reforming health care coverage.
The Dec. 10 report stated shortly after Gottwalt, chairman of the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee, championed reforms to a state-run health care program, he became a licensed insurance broker, allowing for the possibility of selling products to those purged from that program.
The District 14A Republican also entered into a business partnership with another broker who had lobbied for Gottwalt’s reforms. And to further compound matters, Gottwalt hasn’t done a thorough job of explaining all this to constituents.
This is ancient news. Long before he was elected to represent HD-15A, Steve Gottwalt worked in the health insurance industry, though not as an insurance agent. As a freshman legislator in 2007, Steve became one of the experts in the House GOP Caucus on HHS issues because of Steve’s experience in the health insurance industry.
As for the Times’ cheapshot that Rep. Gottwalt “hasn’t done a thorough job of explaining all this to constituents”, that’s BS. The vast majority of the people that contributed to Steve’s campaign knew about Steve’s history within the health insurance industry.
After leaving his job with a local company, Steve opted to get his license to sell health insurance. That was well after Gov. Dayton signed Steve’s HHS reform plan into law. That’s a natural thing for him to do.
The Times admits that “Gottwalt’s actions don’t merit an ethics probe”, which is like admitting that they didn’t have much for the editorial page so they created this non-story.
With all their resources, you’d think the Times could find time to write something about the SCSU administration doctoring students’ transcripts. That’s something worthy of an editorial. This garbage isn’t. The question now is why the Times isn’t devoting any ink on a real scandal. Is it that they’re protecting this administration?
It’s time for the Times to come clean if that’s what they’re doing.
I don’t think Rep. Keith Ellison understood that he admitted that President Obama’s policies aren’t working but that’s what he admitted in saying this:
The middle class has already been forced to get by with less. The wealthiest 2% of Americans have continued to see their income rise as middle-class wages remained stagnant.
Actually, Rep. Ellison is lying or ill-informed when he says that middle-class wages have remained stagnant. They’ve actually dropped by $4,300 since President Obama took office. He’s right that “the middle class has been forced to get by with less.”
Thanks to President Obama’s counterproductive economic policies, families are paying higher electric bills, higher gas prices while paying more for groceries. Meanwhile, President Obama’s policies have led to higher unemployment and shrinking wages.
The latest proposal by Republicans fails to meet the basic test of fairness. Over the past two years, Republicans have forced cuts of more than $1.7 trillion for vital investments such as helping children get a college education and helping seniors heat their homes. But they have refused to ask the wealthy to contribute even a little more.
Rep. Ellison needs a refresher course on spinning. Republicans haven’t cut anything. They’ve cut the projected rate of spending growth a little but they haven’t cut spending. Only progressives think that slowing the rate of future spending from unprecedented levels is a destructive cut that’s sure to wipe out the middle class.
Shame on Rep. Ellison for peddling that crap. President Obama’s EPA has led to the closing of 100 coal-fired power plants. President Obama’s loans to the rich fatcats who were his biggest campaign bundlers in 2008 was disgusting enough. That they got these loans right before going bankrupt and laying off thousands of factory workers.
Has Rep. Ellison criticized President Obama for destroying the lives of those middle class families while giving Obama’s fatcats billions of dollars in taxpayer money? No, he hasn’t.
Might Rep. Ellison’s definition of fairness be subject to situational modifications? I can’t rule that out.
Unfortunately, the Republican plan doesn’t even touch Americans’ most immediate concern: creating good jobs. It’s time to focus on fairness. The Republican plan fails that test.
Rep. Ellison voted for the biggest job-killing legislation in U.S. history when he voted for the ACA. As a direct result of the ACA, workers are getting cut from full-time to part-time status. Wages are dropping. Other companies are laying hundreds of people off.
That Rep. Ellison has the audacity to say Republican plans won’t create good-paying jobs is testament to his willingness to criticize those he disagrees with based on his assumptions. What’s worse is that Rep. Ellison has repeatedly proven that he isn’t willing to criticize policies that he voted for even if it’s proven that they hurt the economy.
Rep. Ellison’s worldview is skewed because he’s viewing it through rose-colored glasses.
UPDATE: Welcome Hotair followers. After you read this article, make the time to read this article about a major breaking scandal on a college campus.