“HHS: ObamaCare Would Make Costs Go Up”

From Hot Air.com,

Does the official HHS website include their latest study of ObamaCare along with their propaganda linksNot so far, but the AP picked up on the new analysis, which shows that far from containing costs, the proposals for health-care reform on Capitol Hill will actually increase costs, thanks to an entirely predictable response from people with new health insurance:

The nation’s medical costs will keep spiraling upward even faster than they are now under Democratic legislation pending in the House, a report from government economic experts concluded Wednesday.

Republicans said the report is a warning sign that health care legislation is likely to fall short of President Barack Obama’s goal of “bending the cost curve” by slowing torrid rates of medical inflation. …

Unlike previous estimates that have focused mainly on the legislation’s impact on the federal deficit, the actuaries’ report looked at total costs, public and private, over the next 10 years. It found that the nation’s health care tab would increase somewhat more rapidly with the legislation than if nothing is done. The main reason: Newly insured people will seek medical care.

The nation’s health care tab, now at about $2.5 trillion annually, is projected to approach $4.7 trillion in 2019 without the legislation.

With the legislation, national health care spending would be nearly $4.8 trillion in 2019.

This should surprise no one who looks at the actual cost problem in American health care.  It comes from a lack of price transparency, thanks to an irrational system which has most of the costs paid through third parties. Consumers overuse the system and choose inefficient, expensive options for care because they have no idea of the costs, and providers locked into compensation schedules have little incentive to compete and to innovate.  As a result, costs go up as demand increases irrationally, and producers don’t get rewarded for efficiency and excellence.

The ObamaCare model would make this problem exponentially worse by locking everyone into this faulty model.  The HHS probably underestimates the increased demand that will result from imposing comprehensive plans on everyone in the country.  Those who forgo health insurance to pay retail actually help the industry and reduce their costs of care in the short term, although they leave themselves vulnerable for catastrophic events.

The proper route for reform would remove pricing opacity and rely on consumers to make rational choices on health care.  That would allow providers in clinics and hospitals to compete for consumers and get rewarded for excellence and efficiency.  Those efforts would not only drive costs downward, but would also encourage more providers to enter the market to meet the demand.  A combination of health-savings accounts with a move away from comprehensive insurance to catastrophic coverage would not only better serve Americans but would result in a massive boost to the health-care industry.

In the meantime, we should ask why the administration doesn’t pay attention to its own analysis.  Perhaps it’s because the ObamaCare push has always been about ideology over rational policy.

Published in: on October 23, 2009 at 2:24 am  Leave a Comment  

“About that $900 Billion”

From The Foundry at the Heritage Foundation,

Last night President Barack Obama promised: “Add it all up, and the plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over ten years.” What are the chances that Obama will keep this promise? ReasonTV examines how the actual price of government programs almost always shoots far beyond the advertised price:

The Senate Joint Economic Committee recently released a study examining the federal government’s track record of measuring the future costs of health care programs specifically. Here is what they found:

Medicare (hospital insurance). In 1965, as Congress considered legislation to establish a national Medicare program, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated that the hospital insurance portion of the program, Part A, would cost about $9 billion annually by 1990.v Actual Part A spending in 1990 was $67 billion. The actuary who provided the original cost estimates acknowledged in 1994 that, even after conservatively discounting for the unexpectedly high inflation rates of the early ‘70s and other factors, “the actual [Part A] experience was 165% higher than the estimate.”

Medicare (entire program). In 1967, the House Ways and Means Committee predicted that the new Medicare program, launched the previous year, would cost about $12 billion in 1990. Actual Medicare spending in 1990 was $110 billion—off by nearly a factor of 10.

Medicaid DSH program. In 1987, Congress estimated that Medicaid’s disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments—which states use to provide relief to hospitals that serve especially large numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients—would cost less than $1 billion in 1992. The actual cost that year was a staggering $17 billion. Among other things, federal lawmakers had failed to detect loopholes in the legislation that enabled states to draw significantly more money from the federal treasury than they would otherwise have been entitled to claim under the program’s traditional 50-50 funding scheme.

Medicare home care benefit. When Congress debated changes to Medicare’s home care benefit in 1988, the projected 1993 cost of the benefit was $4 billion. The actual 1993 cost was more than twice that amount, $10 billion.

Medicare catastrophic coverage benefit. In 1988, Congress added a catastrophic coverage benefit to Medicare, to take effect in 1990. In July 1989, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) doubled its cost estimate for the program, for the four-year period 1990-1993, from $5.7 billion to $11.8 billion. CBO explained that it had received newer data showing it had significantly under-estimated prescription drug cost growth, and it warned Congress that even this revised estimate might be too low. This was a principal reason Congress repealed the program before it could take effect.

SCHIP. In 1997, Congress established the State Children’s Health Insurance Program as a capped grant program to states, and appropriated $40 billion to be doled out to states over 10 years at a rate of roughly $5 billion per year, once implemented. In each year, some states exceeded their allotments, requiring shifts of funds from other states that had not done so. By 2006, unspent reserves from prior years were nearly exhausted. To avert mass disenrollments, Congress decided to appropriate an additional $283 million in FY 2006 and an additional $650 million in FY 2007.

Published in: on September 11, 2009 at 12:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

“AP Fact-checks Obama’s Speech”

From Hot Air,

Yesterday, Barack Obama told the nation that he was tired of dishonest debate and “scare tactics,” but how honest was Obama himself in last night’s speech?  The Associated Press fact-checks Obama and finds him … wanting.  For a man eager to paint his opposition as liars, Obama told a couple of whoppers himself in front of the joint session of Congress:

OBAMA: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits either now or in the future. Period.”

THE FACTS: Though there’s no final plan yet, the White House and congressional Democrats already have shown they’re ready to skirt the no-new-deficits pledge.

House Democrats offered a bill that the Congressional Budget Office said would add $220 billion to the deficit over 10 years. But Democrats and Obama administration officials claimed the bill actually was deficit-neutral. They said they simply didn’t have to count $245 billion of it — the cost of adjusting Medicare reimbursement rates so physicians don’t face big annual pay cuts. …

CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf had this to say in July: “We do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount.”

In fact, none of the proposals that have come from Congress thus far have been scored deficit neutral by any credible analytical group.  Obama tried arguing again last night that preventive medicine would save the system money, and therefore would render the system deficit neutral or even cost-effective in the long run.  Obama has yet to explain the scope of the “long run” argument, and in any event, the AP notes that the CBO has already blown the whistle on this argument, too:

THE FACTS: Studies have shown that much preventive care — particularly tests like the ones Obama mentions — actually costs money instead of saving it. That’s because detecting acute diseases like breast cancer in their early stages involves testing many people who would never end up developing the disease. The costs of a large number of tests, even if they’re relatively cheap, will outweigh the costs of caring for the minority of people who would have ended up getting sick without the testing.

The Congressional Budget Office wrote in August: “The evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall.”

I wrote a column regarding this finding a month ago today.  This has been known for several weeks, explained thoroughly by the CBO in its letter, based on well-known, peer-reviewed studies.  Cost savings from a massive application of preventive medicine is a myth — or in Obama’s parlance, a lie.  Yet Obama insists on telling it over and over again to get people to believe that he can save money by spending more of it.

The AP misses a couple of whoppers, too.  For instance, while they scold Obama for reversing himself on individual mandates, they let this pass without challenge in their article:

“To force people to get health insurance, you’ve got to have a very harsh penalty,” he said in a February 2008 debate.

Now, he says, “individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance — just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.”

This analogy is false for a few reasons.  States only require people to carry auto insurance if they drive on public roads.  It is a prerequisite of accessing a state-run system, not a mandate disconnected from any government-provided service.  Also, the mandate for auto insurance in most states is for liability insurance — insurance that pays for the damage done to other people, not to one’s self.  It’s to make sure that people who suffer damages from auto accidents not their fault can recover compensation for them.

They really miss the boat on illegal immigration, though:

OBAMA: “The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.” One congressman, South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson, shouted “You lie!” from his seat in the House chamber when Obama made this assertion. Wilson later apologized.

THE FACTS: The facts back up Obama. The House version of the health care bill explicitly prohibits spending any federal money to help illegal immigrants get health care coverage. Illegal immigrants could buy private health insurance, as many do now, but wouldn’t get tax subsidies to help them. Still, Republicans say there are not sufficient citizenship verification requirements to ensure illegal immigrants are excluded from benefits they are not due.

Actually, the facts do not back up Obama, as the Congressional Research Service noted in its analysis of HR3200.  The CRS is not run by Republicans, but is the nonpartisan research office that reports to Congress.  Illegal aliens in the US who meet the “substantial presence” test would be required to participate in the health-care “exchanges” and would have access therefore to the subsidies and the public option, if it exists in the final form of the bill (page 4):

Under H.R. 3200, all legal permanent residents (LPRs),23 nonimmigrants, and unauthorized aliens who meet the substantial presence test (defined above) would be required to obtain health insurance. Noncitizens meeting the definition of nonresident aliens (e.g., temporary visitors, temporary workers in the United States for less than 183 days in the year) would not be required to obtain health insurance. Notably, the IRC does not contain special rules for individuals who are in the United States without authorization (i.e., illegal or unauthorized aliens). Instead, the IRC treats these individuals in the same manner as other foreign nationals—an unauthorized individual who has been in the United States long enough to qualify under the substantial presence test is classified as a resident alien; otherwise, the individual is classified as a nonresident alien. Thus, it would appear that unauthorized aliens who meet the substantial presence test would be required under H.R. 3200 to have health insurance.

Since the CRS analysis has been public for almost two weeks, the AP reporters should have familiarized themselves with it. The bill offered by the House, which Obama seems to have re-embraced last night, would require illegal aliens in the country for more than six months to obtain health insurance through the exchanges, and make them eligible for the public option. Furthermore, when Republicans attempted to close that loophole with an amendment, Democrats shot it down.

If Obama really wants to make a reputation for himself as a mythbuster, he should start with himself.

Published in: on September 11, 2009 at 12:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Undercover at a Town Hall”

The side of the story you aren’t seeing, via Hot Air.

“He’s baaack! It’s been too long since our YAF/Hot Air TV special correspondent Jason Mattera’s last video production. But he teamed up with YAF intern and cameraman Adam Tragone to give us a special glimpse into the world of Obamacare supporters at Democrat Rep. Jim Moran’s recent town hall forum in Virginia.

Enjoy it, you “selfish people!:”

Did you make sure to watch it to the very end? Commune Dude is priceless.

“IT owns the clothes.”

Published in: on September 2, 2009 at 2:34 am  Leave a Comment  

A Lesson on Astroturfing…w/ Hidden Camera

The very funny Steven Crowder is at it again, this time revealing how the Left recruits their “volunteers” and “activists.”

From Hot Air’s ALLAHPUNDIT,

How much does a left-wing Astroturfer get paid , anyway?

Answer: There are no left-wing astroturfers, silly. They do it because they love the cause and the “fight” and the Unicorn King currently installed in the White House.

That $33,000 a year plus benefits is just their share of the wealth that belongs to all of us.

Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 2:21 am  Comments (1)  

“A Parade of Trojan Horses”

From The Foundry at Heritage.org,

“Over the course of the health care debate, the bloggers at Verum Serum have done a true service to the cause of honesty in public discourse by posting video after video of liberal politicians and intellectuals all admitting that, despite his claims otherwise, President Barack Obama’s public option is designed for the sole purpose of being a Trojan Horse for government-run single payer health care. Now Verum Serum has edited all their public option videos into one clip. So the next time an Obamacare supporter tries to tell you that the public option is all about “choice and competition”, respond with this:”


Published in: on August 20, 2009 at 9:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cool Summer Reception for Reps.

Great report from Michelle Malkin, author of the new book Culture of Corruption, about the cool homecoming Reps are getting.

Worth reading and watching for inspiration as you attend forums, make office hours, write letters and make phone calls of your own!  Or, my personal favorite, parade protests.  Even in this off-year it’ll be fun.

Democrat Rep. Lloyd Doggett went home to Austin, Texas, and heard from his constituents about the planned government health care takeover.

Message: “Just say no!”

This taxpayer counterinsurgency is exactly what I talked about on the ABC This Week panel earlier today. The long, hot recess is underway. Make yourselves heard. Mark your calendars for the nationwide August 22 Recess Rally. Prepare to be demonized, of course.

And don’t let up until socialized medicine goes down:

In Philadelphia, Kathleen Sebelius and Arlen Specter get an earful (the YouTube user who posted the video calls the protesters “crazies.” You’re going to get a lot of that. Just carry on):

Better video and report from Andrew Monaghan here. Here’s one question from a woman who ticks off failed government program after failed government program and concludes, “How Can You Manage Health Care When You Can’t Manage Cash For Clunkers?”

Published in: on August 3, 2009 at 2:05 am  Comments (1)  

“Confounding America’s Ideals”

Excerpts from an editorial from California Representative John Campbell (R).

Full text here.

“Prior to the founding of the United States, political theorist and philosopher John Locke developed the theory that government derives its power and authority from the consent of the governed. Benjamin Franklin once wrote that “in free governments the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns.”

Flash forward to the current setting and context. President Obama has made his intent clear on health care: Medical decisions will no longer be made by doctors and patients, but by the omnipotent prowess of the federal government. By proposing creation of a bureaucracy to ration care and determine the cost-effectiveness of care for individuals, he has violated at least one fundamental tenet of America’s founding.

The House version of the bill creates 53 new departments, agencies and commissions, but one stands out: the National Institute of Comparative Effectiveness. Though it may sound benign, this bureaucracy will be used to ration care.

A similar institution exists in Britain, called the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, given the curious acronym of N.I.C.E. Rulings on whether people live or die are made frequently in Britain and Canada, and if an individual has a pre-existing condition, is elderly, or for some reason deemed “unfit” for a lifesaving procedure, his chances of being granted that lifesaving procedure become uncertain. With health care rationing, lives will literally hang in the balance, subject to the whims of government.

In fact, it is documented that in countries where socialized medicine is in place, citizens suffer from drastically lower survival rates from ailments such as cancer and heart disease. On balance, survival rates range from around 30 percent to 50 percent below countries with private medicine.

This socialized-medicine package is a giant leap in a direction that changes the dynamic of government as a servant to the people…The American government will begin to view its citizens as liabilities rather than assets.

I and my Republican colleagues view the American people as assets with the intelligence and power to decide for themselves what is best for them and their families. This is something we are committed to fight for, and we continue to do so.

Published in: on August 3, 2009 at 1:37 am  Leave a Comment  

We the People

logo

Angry constituents speaking out during the Independence Day congressional recess helped put the brakes on Cap and Trade legislation in the Senate.

We can do the same for  Health Care “reform” legislation by taking advantage of town hall meetings, parades, forums, and district office hours with our Representatives during their August break.

Saturday, August 22nd at noon will mark a nationwide “Recess Rally” at every local congressional office in the country.  Visit the Recess Rally website here for more info.

Government-controlled health care is not better for America.

And, as this soldier bravely articulated, completely outside of the realm of congressional powers granted by the Constitution.

And Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R) on MSNBC,

I’m Reading the Bill. Are They?

The House Health Care Bill dropped Tuesday and I dove right in.

Why?  I want to know what’s actually in the 1081 (for now) pages of legislation.  If it’s passed, this will- no matter what Obama says- fundamentally change American life.

It will drive private insurance companies out of business.

It will cause businesses to lay off and/or hire fewer employees.  At a time when unemployment is at a 25 year high.

It will cause individuals and companies to earn less money, make fewer investments, and take less risk.

It will cost more than projected.

It will rob Americans of choice in health care.

It will create long lines, life-threatening waits for care, and doctor shortages.

Here’s what I find as I read the bill, which you can find and read for yourself here.

Ok, I’ve found dental and vision coverage for all “children” under 21 years old.

Ah, and a Private-Public medical advisory board that will have 18 members (conveniently) appointed by the President, plus a few others indirectly appointed, to determine covered benefits. To be named within 60 days of the passage of the legislation (even though I believe it’s not supposed to fully kick in until 2015…interesting). Ah…limited to 3 year terms, EXCEPT this initial board, whose terms “shall be adjusted” in order to provide staggered terms. Again, certainly just a technicality.

HA! It only requires ONE of these people to be a physician OR “health professional or expert on child’s health”!!!!!

The creation of a “Health Choices Commissioner.” This is layer upon layer of new bureaucracy. That’s sure to improve health care.

Some regulations starting Jan 1, 2011…

“Entity shall provide for culturally and linguistically appropriate communication and health services.” p.91

p.116 starts “Public Insurance Option” if you’re looking for it.

p.120 “In order to provide for the establishment of the public insurance option there is hereby appropriated to the Secretary, out of any funds in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $2 billion, …plus any other funds not otherwise appropriated to cover the first 90 days of program claims.” WHY DO WE HAVE UNAPPROPRIATED FUNDS (AKA, OUR MONEY!!) SITTING IN THE TREASURY???

Oh, it’ll be paid BACK to the Treasury over 10 years…right.

p. 124 for all you providers out there!
“There shall be no administrative or judicial review of a payment rate or methodology.”

p. 167 begins the amendments to the tax code required by this legislation. snooze…

Ok, if you don’t comply with the requirements the penalty is an extra 2.5% tax on your adjusted gross income for the year.

Hmmm…there are religious exemptions.

Employers who fail to comply in providing coverage for their employees will be fined $100 A DAY.

Ah, NOW we know what the Democrats consider to be “rich.”
p.190, “Credit not allowed with respect to certain highly compensated employees…$80,000” No lie.

p.195-196 Your federal income tax return information and number of dependents can be disclosed to “officers and employees of the Health Choices Administration, or to a state-based health insurance exchange.”

p.197 Now it gets good. “Surcharge on High Income Individuals”

1% of AGI on $350k, up to $500k which moves you to 1.5%, up to $1 million, which moves you to 5.4%. UNTIL, Dec. 31, 2012, when p.199 substitutes the figures 2% instead of 1%, and 3% instead of 1.5%.

That’s up to page 215.  More to follow.

p. 234 Doesn’t require a report from HHS to evaluate effectiveness of legislation until 2016!

p. 236 The bill defines an adequate reduction in the uninsured as “exceeding 8%” between 2012 to 2014. EIGHT PERCENT?  That’s success, for more than a TRILLION DOLLARS!!

p. 238 starts Physician Services.

Published in: on July 15, 2009 at 1:56 am  Leave a Comment