Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Maybe you can’t keep your health care plan after all

original article: ObamaCare may force employers to pull the plug on millions of health plans, CBO report finds
March 28, 2016 by FoxNews

In the latest report to undercut President Obama’s “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” promise, the Congressional Budget Office projects millions of workers will leave employer-sponsored health plans over the next decade because of ObamaCare.

Some will opt to go on Medicaid, but others will be kicked off their company plans by employers who decide not to offer coverage anymore, according to a new CBO report titled,  “Federal Subsidies for Health Insurance Coverage for People Under Age 65: 2016 to 2026.”

“As a result of the ACA, between 4 million and 9 million fewer people are projected to have employment-based coverage each year from 2017 through 2026 than would have had such coverage if the ACA had never been enacted,” the report, released Thursday, said.

Employers now cover some 155 million people, about 57 percent of those under 65. That’s expected to decline to 152 million people in 2019. Ten years from now, employers will be covering about 54 percent of those under 65.

CBO said part of the shrinkage is attributable to the health care law: some workers may qualify for Medicaid, which is virtually free to them, and certain employers may decide not to offer coverage because a government-subsidized alternative is available.

Larger employers would face fines if they take that route.

But the agency also noted that employer coverage had been declining due to rising medical costs well before the health care law was passed, and that the trend continues.

The CBO also found that more people will enroll in Medicaid than previously predicted, though fewer will be covered through the public insurance marketplaces mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

The analysis underscores the view that the health care law is driving the nation’s gains in insurance coverage, which raises political risks for Republicans who would repeal it.

bureaucracy, crisis, economy, government, health care, law, legislation, nanny state, politics, public policy, reform, regulation, unintended consequences

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Filed under: bureaucracy, crisis, economy, government, health care, law, legislation, nanny state, politics, public policy, reform, regulation, unintended consequences

Republican lawmakers slam ‘diversion’ of ObamaCare funds from Treasury

original article: Republican lawmakers slam ‘diversion’ of ObamaCare funds from Treasury
March 11, 2016 by FoxNews

Republican critics say an ObamaCare program is breaking the law by shorting the U.S. Treasury — and therefore U.S. taxpayers– billions of dollars collected from the insurance industry.

Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., chairman of the health subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, called it “an illegal wealth transfer from hard-working taxpayers to (insurers).”

He recently joined Republican colleagues in grilling Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell about the shortfall of money  supposed to be flowing into Treasury coffers – as mandated in the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

They followed up that hearing by sending a letter this week seeking clarification from the administration, according to The Hill.

Under the law, money is collected each year from insurers for the ACA’s reinsurance program, which helps plans taking on higher costs associated with sicker enrollees.

While $10 billion was supposed to go back to the market to pay those costs in 2014, the first year, an additional $2 billion was supposed to go to the U.S. Treasury under the law. It never arrived.

That was because not enough money was brought in to cover both, so the administration prioritized. Then HHS published a new rule saying payments would be made to insurers first in the event of a shortfall.

The rule, set in 2014, was published publicly for comment and received no reaction at the time, Burwell told a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing when the matter was raised again by lawmakers last week.

According to health care law expert Tim Jost, a professor at Washington & Lee University School of Law, the reinsurance program is not permanent and was instituted as a way to shoulder some of the burden for the new costs connected with new, at-risk enrollees who weren’t able to get adequate coverage before ObamaCare.

The reinsurance program was to collect $10 billion from insurance companies in 2014, $6 billion in 2015, and $4 billion in 2016. The Treasury would get $2 billion in 2014 and 2015 and $1 billion in 2016.

In 2014, according to reports, only $9.7 billion was collected from the industry , and 2015 totals were expected to be short, as well.

Critics say the law is clear: the Treasury gets the money and it cannot be transferred elsewhere, even if that “elsewhere” is to the insurance companies for the reinsurance program.

According to The Hill, presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., teamed up with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R- Utah, to write a letter decrying the administration’s moves.

“The statute in question is unambiguous, and the HHS regulation and recent practice violates its clear directive,” the letter read.

Jost is not so sure. He says it all depends on how the mandate is interpreted. “(The administration’s) reading of the statute is, that the reason for adopting this program was to establish a reinsurance program, and therefore if there was a shortfall the money collected should first go to reinsurance,” and if more is collected, “only then would it go to the Treasury,” Jost told Foxnews.com. “(Republicans) say that reading is wrong.”

“It’s a disagreement on how to read the statute,” he added, “but I don’t think there is anything illegal, unconstitutional or immoral in respect to what the administration is doing.”

bureaucracy, congress, ethics, funding, government, health care, nanny state, politics, public policy, rationing, reform, regulation, spending

Filed under: bureaucracy, congress, ethics, funding, government, health care, nanny state, politics, public policy, rationing, reform, regulation, spending

Chelsea Clinton laments ‘crushing’ health care costs despite ObamaCare

original article: Chelsea Clinton laments ‘crushing’ health care costs despite ObamaCare
March 25, 2016 by FoxNews

Chelsea Clinton, in an implicit swipe at the impact of President Obama’s health care law, recently told voters that many Americans still are facing “crushing costs” from health insurance even under the Affordable Care Act.

The comments were captured in a video posted this week. In her remarks, Clinton said her mother — presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — could use executive action to curb those costs.

“We can either do that directly or through tax credits. And, kind of figuring out whether she could do that through executive action, or she would need to do that through tax credits working with Congress. She thinks either of those will help solve the challenge of kind of the crushing costs that still exist for too many people who even are part of the Affordable Care Act,” she said in the video, initially flagged by The Weekly Standard.

The video appears to be from a Hillary Clinton town hall event this past Tuesday at the Advanced Technology Center at Bates Technical College in Tacoma, Wash.

It’s just the latest controversial comment from a member of the Clinton family; former President Bill Clinton lamented the “awful legacy of the last eight years” earlier this week while stumping for his wife, though a spokesman later said he was referring to Republicans during the Obama administration.

On health care, Hillary Clinton herself has staunchly defended the Affordable Care Act, while saying she would take any steps necessary to fix problems in the system.

In a January debate, she said, “As president, I’ll defend the Affordable Care Act, build on its successes, and go even further to reduce costs. My plan will crack down on drug companies charging excessive prices, slow the growth of out-of-pocket costs, and provide a new credit to those facing high health expenses.”

In December, Hillary Clinton was asked by a questioner at a town hall event why companies are favoring part-time employment over full-time employment. Clinton responded by saying, “the Affordable Care Act. You know, we got to change that because we have built in some unfortunate incentives that discourage full-time employment.”

A report from Freedom Partners released earlier this month states that the cost of health care premiums have outgrown both wages and normal inflation, resulting in an average rise of 28 percent from 2009 to 2014.

“With health care costs still rising faster than inflation six years after passage of the Affordable Care Act, it is clear that the law is not helping lower the burden of health care expenses for American families,” the report states.

bureaucracy, crisis, economy, government, health care, liberalism, medicine, nanny state, politics, progressive, public policy, reform, unintended consequences

Filed under: bureaucracy, crisis, economy, government, health care, liberalism, medicine, nanny state, politics, progressive, public policy, reform, unintended consequences

Health Insurance Premiums Rising Faster Than Wages

original article: Health Insurance Premiums Rising Faster Than Wages
March 23, 2016 by Ali Meyer

Health insurance premiums have increased faster than wages and inflation in recent years, rising an average of 28 percent from 2009 to 2014 despite the enactment of Obamacare, according to a report from Freedom Partners.

President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010, and Wednesday is the law’s sixth anniversary.

The Obama administration expressed concern in 2009 about skyrocketing health care premiums in a report entitled, “The Burden of Health Insurance Premium Increases on American Families.” They were concerned that premiums had increased by 5.5 percent from 2008 to 2009.

However, from 2010 to 2011 in the first year after Obamacare was enacted, premiums increased by 9.4 percent.

“In 2009, when the [Executive Office of the President] issued its report, states had seen premiums increase on average by 30 percent between 2004 and 2009,” states the Freedom Partners report. “But since 2009, health insurance premiums have continued to grow faster than wages in nearly every state, averaging a 28 percent increase from 2009 to 2014, resulting in a greater amount of disposable income being consumed by rising premiums.”

According to the report, while premiums increased by 28 percent from 2009 to 2014, wages increased by only 7.8 percent. From 2004 to 2009 when premiums increased by 30 percent, wages increased by only 12.2 percent.

The data also finds that health care costs have exceeded the rate of inflation. “The average annual cost of a family’s employer-sponsored health insurance policy was $17,545 in 2015, which marks a 4.2 percent increase from the 2014 average of $16,834, while the inflation rate remained low at 0.1 percent,” states the report. “With health care costs still rising faster than inflation six years after passage of the Affordable Care Act, it is clear that the law is not helping lower the burden of health care expenses for American families.”

Americans can expect their health care costs to rise again in 2017. According to Stephen Parente, a scholar at the University of Minnesota, each type of health care plan on the exchanges can expect to see an average premium increase of 7.3 percent for families and 11 percent for individuals.

“The Administration claimed the ACA would bend the cost curve, but our report shows it bent in the wrong direction—premiums didn’t slow down under the Affordable Care Act, they sped up,” said Nathan Nascimento, senior policy adviser at Freedom Partners. “No wonder the White House is trying to change the national conversation away from health care costs. By their own standards, the Affordable Care Act has failed.”

The Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

bureaucracy, economy, government, health care, ideology, left wing, legislation, liberalism, medicine, nanny state, politics, president, progressive, public policy, reform, unintended consequences

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Do Democrats really realize how difficult it has been on working-class Americans to finance Obamacare?

original article: Watch: Mom Says The 15 Words No Democrat Wants To Hear Right To Hillary’s Face On Live TV
March 15, 2016 by Warner Todd Huston

One woman at CNN’s recent Democrat town hall seemed to sense the possible dangers of voting for a left-leaning candidate, and shocked Hillary with what she had to say about Obamacare.

During the CNN televised town hall Teresa O’Donnell of Powell, Ohio, stood to ask a question of the former Secretary of State, first explaining how Obamacare has seriously hurt her and her family due to the exorbitant costs it has inflicted upon them.

“I would like to vote Democratic,” O’Donnell said, “but it has cost me a lot of money.”

She went on saying, “And I’m just wondering if Democrats really realize how difficult it has been on working-class Americans to finance Obamacare.”

O’Donnell told the audience that since the President’s signature Affordable Care Act went into effect the monthly premium for her family healthcare costs has “skyrocketed.” She says her costs have soared from $490 a month to $1,080.

The woman did note she hadn’t purchased her insurance through an Obamacare exchange so, in an effort to rescue Obamacare from the bad publicity, Hillary said the woman should check out the exchange avenue for her insurance.

This Ohio woman isn’t alone in her distaste over Obamacare. As Independent Journal noted, a recent Rasmussen poll found that 54 percent of respondents do not like Obamacare.

Hillary, though, has made Obamacare a major plank in her campaign noting she was for “Obamacare” before it even existed since she tried to get universal healthcare put in place when she was First Lady during her husband Bill’s presidency in the mid 1990s.

“What we have to do, I think, is defend the Affordable Care Act and fix it,” Hillary said in a recent campaign video. Late last year Clinton said, “I’m not going to let them tear up that law, kick 16 million off their health coverage and force the country to start the healthcare debate all over again.”

She has also attacked insurance companies for “predatory pricing” and said that they are “gouging” Americans with their rates.

Her Democrat opponent, self-avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, wants to go even farther by proclaiming healthcare a “right.”

“My view is simple,” Sanders says on his website, “health care is a right, not a privilege.”

campaign, Democrats, economics, government, health care, nanny state, progressive, public policy, reform, tragedy, video

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Stop Whining About Islamophobia And Focus On Jihadis

Stop worrying about Islamophobia and start asking why hundreds of millions of Muslims across the world say they support Islamist terrorism.

Source: Stop Whining About Islamophobia And Focus On Jihadis

bias, bigotry, culture, diversity, extremism, foreign affairs, ideology, indoctrination, islam, left wing, liberalism, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, racism, relativism, terrorism

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Officials Admit Released GITMO Detainees Have Killed Americans

original article: Obama Administration Makes a Shocking Admission About Released GITMO Terrorists
March 23, 2016 by JOE PERTICONE

An Obama administration official responsible for overseeing the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Wednesday that released detainees have killed Americans.

Paul Lewis, the Defense Department’s special envoy for the closure of the detainee program at GITMO, said to Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA):

“What I can tell you is unfortunately there have been Americans that have died because of [Guantánamo] detainees.”

“When anybody dies it is tragedy. We don’t want anybody to die because we transfer detainees,” Lewis added.

And while Lewis did not elaborate on the exact circumstances of specific deaths, nor did he say under which administration the deaths occurred, he did note that “most of the detainees transferred from Guantánamo were transferred by the Bush Administration[.]”

Despite acknowledging transfers have resulted in the loss of American lives, Lewis said in his opening statement that closing GITMO’s detention facility is a “national security imperative,” adding:

“The President and the leadership of his national security team believe that the continued operation of the detention facility at Guantánamo weakens our national security by damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, draining resources, and providing violent extremists with a propaganda tool.”

Currently, 91 detainees sit in the detention facility, many of whom are part of the too dangerous to transfer list. One of those individuals is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who the 9/11 Commission report identified as the principal architect of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

While the facility cannot be officially closed without Congress repealing several laws that prevent such action, the large number of transfers and released terrorists has displayed blowback.

Still, the administration persists that the facility must close. “We believe the issue is not whether to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility; the issue is how to do it,” Lewis said.

bureaucracy, foreign affairs, government, military, national security, politics, terrorism, tragedy, unintended consequences

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Are main stream pundits out of touch?

original article: Glenn Reynolds: How David Brooks created Donald Trump
March 21, 2016 by Glenn Reynolds

Political establishment denounced bourgeois Tea Party. Now, they must face raucous working-class Trumpsters.

Last week, in assessing the rise of Donald Trump, New York Times columnist David Brooks engaged in an uncharacteristic bit of self-reflection:

“Trump voters,” he wrote, “are a coalition of the dispossessed. They have suffered lost jobs, lost wages, lost dreams. The American system is not working for them, so naturally they are looking for something else. Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how they would express their alienation.We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.” (Emphasis added.)

Well, it’s a lesson for a lot of people in the punditocracy, of whom Brooks — who famously endorsed Barack Obama after viewing his sharply creased pants — is just one. And if Brooks et al. had paid attention, the roots of the Trump phenomenon wouldn’t have been so difficult to fathom.

Brooks is, of course, horrified at Trump and his supporters, whom he finds childish, thuggish and contemptuous of the things that David Brooks likes about today’s America. It’s clear that he’d like a social/political revolution that was more refined, better-mannered, more focused on the Constitution and, well, more bourgeois as opposed to in-your-face and working class.

The thing is, we had that movement. It was the Tea Party movement. Unlike Brooks, I actually ventured out to “intermingle” with Tea Partiers at various events that I covered for PJTV.com, contributing commentary to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Examiner. As I reported from one event in Nashville, “Pundits claim the tea partiers are angry — and they are — but the most striking thing about the atmosphere in Nashville was how cheerful everyone seemed to be. I spoke with dozens of people, and the responses were surprisingly similar. Hardly any had ever been involved in politics before. Having gotten started, they were finding it to be not just worthwhile, but actually fun. Laughter rang out frequently, and when new-media mogul Andrew Breitbart held forth on a TV interview, a crowd gathered and broke into spontaneous applause. A year ago (2009), many told me, they were depressed about the future of America. Watching television pundits talk about President Obama’s transformative plans for big government, they felt alone, isolated and helpless. That changed when protests, organized by bloggers, met Mr. Obama a year ago in Denver, Colo., Mesa, Ariz., and Seattle, Wash. Then came CNBC talker Rick Santelli’s famous on-air rant on Feb. 19, 2009, which gave the tea-party movement its name. Tea partiers are still angry at federal deficits, at Washington’s habit of rewarding failure with handouts and punishing success with taxes and regulation, and the general incompetence that has marked the first year of the Obama presidency. But they’re no longer depressed.”

One of the most famous things about the Tea Partiers was that — as befits a relentlessly bourgeois protest movement — they left things cleaner than they found them. Rich Lowry reported from Washington, DC: “Just as stunning as the tableaux of the massive throngs lining the reflecting pool were the images of the spotless grounds afterward. If someone had told attendees they were expected to mow the grass before they left, surely some of them would have hitched flatbed trailers to their vehicles for the trip to Washington and gladly brought mowers along with them. This was the revolt of the bourgeois, of the responsible, of the orderly, of people profoundly at peace with the traditional mores of American society. The spark that lit the tea-party movement was the rant by CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, who inveighed in early 2009 against an Obama-administration program to subsidize ‘the losers’ mortgages.’ He was speaking for people who hadn’t borrowed beyond their means or tried to get rich quick by flipping houses, for the people who, in their thrift and enterprise, ‘carry the water instead of drink the water.’ The tea party’s detractors want to paint it as radical, when at bottom it represents the self-reliant, industrious heart of American life.”

In San Francisco, too, tea party protesters met pro-Obama activists and picked up their trash. “John,” author of The City Square blog wrote: “As Obama supporters moved along in the line to get into the fundraiser, they left behind an impressive amount of trash … Tea Partiers shouted ‘pick up your garbage’ and ‘this is San Francisco, what about recycling?’ There was no response. They chanted ‘Obama leaves a mess.’ Still no response. Eventually, a tea partier (wearing the black cowboy hat) crosses over and starts to pick up the trash on his own. Other tea partiers join him. Another manages to find a trash bag. Soon the trash is being collected.”

Yet the tea party movement was smeared as racistdenounced as fascist, harassed with impunity by the IRS and generally treated with contempt by the political establishment — and by pundits like Brooks, who declared “I’m not a fan of this movement.” After handing the GOP big legislative victories in 2010 and 2014, it was largely betrayed by the Republicans in Congress, who broke their promises to shrink government and block Obama’s initiatives.

So now we have Trump instead, who tells people to punch counterprotesters instead of picking up their trash.

When politeness and orderliness are met with contempt and betrayal, do not be surprised if the response is something less polite, and less orderly. Brooks closes his Trump column with Psalm 73, but a more appropriate verse is Hosea 8:7 “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” Trump’s ascendance is a symptom of a colossal failure among America’s political leaders, of which Brooks’ mean-spirited insularity is only a tiny part. God help us all.

bias, elections, elitism, news media, politics, relativism, unintended consequences

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Euthanasia continues to grow more popular

original article: In Europe, People are Being Euthanized Just Because They’re Autistic
March 10, 2016 CONOR BECK

Euthanasia laws in the Netherlands are very liberal, leaving not only physically ill but also mentally ill patients vulnerable to assisted suicide.

In one case in the Netherlands recently, this resulted in death for a depressed patient with autism. The Washington Post report on this disturbing case shows that Holland’s Regional Euthanasia Review Committees “almost never find fault” with “mercy killings.”

In a recent case, a 30-something patient with autism was labeled “treatable” by one Dutch doctor, but after one more year his request to be killed was approved. The patient was administered a fatal combination of drugs, though the man’s only diagnosis was autism, according to the report. Doctors said the man had been neglected and abused as a child, which also could have been a factor in his wish to die.

The man was one of 110 people to be euthanized for mental disorders between 2011 and 2014 in the country, according to the report. This is a tremendously high number, especially given that the country’s population is nearly 20 times smaller than the United States’.

Columbia University psychiatrist Paul S. Appelbaum writes that widespread euthanasia access is “inducing hopelessness among other individuals with similar conditions and removing pressure for an improvement in psychiatric and social services.”

Appelbaum chairs the World Psychiatric Association’s ethics committee and is planning to address the issue this month.

In the Post article, Charles Lane says, “Once the Netherlands authorized euthanasia for physical illnesses in 2002, demands to extend this ‘right’ to the suffering mentally ill were inevitable and, indeed, logically consistent.”

Assisted suicide also is facing increased access in Canada, with pressure to include that access to patients with mental illness.

In a column at LifeNews, Wesley Smith listed the proposed guidelines for Canada’s new assisted suicide laws:

  • Death on demand for those with medically diagnosed serious sicknesses;
  • Death on demand for those with disabilities;
  • Death on demand for those with medically diagnosed mental illnesses.
  • Death on demand for “mature” children with the above conditions, perhaps with parental consent required;
  • Nurses ordered to participate in euthanasia under the direction of a doctor, normalizing killing as an answer to suffering and making it easier for doctors to avoid the dirty work of homicide;
  • Government-paid euthanasia.

The assisted suicide push also continues in the United States. In October, California became the fourth state to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide.

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Another country busted for euthanizing without consent

original article: Head of Nurses Group Reveals Doctors are Euthanizing Patients Without Consent
March 8, 2016 by MICHAEL COOK

The head of Portugal’s national nurses’ association has blown the whistle on covert euthanasia in public hospitals. Ana Rita Cavaco told a radio program that she personally had heard doctors discussing the topic.

She declared on the Catholic station Rádio Renascença, that euthanasia “is sometimes practiced in the health service hospitals, with doctors suggesting this solution for some patients”.

“I have personally witnessed such situations – I don’t need to look for further examples. I have seen cases where doctors have suggested administering insulin to induce an insulin coma. I am not going to shock anybody as everyone who works in the health service knows these things happen out of sight and sound, so let’s talk about it openly.”

She gave no details, but the mere suggestion was enough for Portugal’s national medical association to demand that she be prosecuted for alleging that doctors were participating in an illegal activity. The association declared that Portuguese should have complete confidence in doctors.

“These statements cannot be passed over in silence with the swiftness with which they were uttered. They are libelous and undermine the dignity of doctors and nurses, so it must be proven or clearly and formally denied”.

The Health Ministry has ordered an urgent inquiry into the allegations.

The controversy comes at a sensitive time in Portugal as Parliament will probably debate euthanasia later this year, after a high-profile petition secured enough signatures to bring the matter before the legislature

LifeNews Note: Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet where this story appeared.

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