No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

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Archive for the 'Health' Category

November 26, 2013

NBC News – Employers abandoning “Cadillac” plans due to PlaceboCare’s “Cadillac plan” tax…4 years early

by @ 9:07. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National.

I wonder whether this counts against the 80 million-100 million of those with existing group health insurance plans expected to lose said insurance by the end of 2014:

For 75 million Americans who get their insurance through large companies, the Affordable Care Act is a mixed bag. Experts tell NBC News the new healthcare law is only slightly increasing premiums next year, but causing some companies with the most generous plans to reduce their employees’ benefits.

Aaron Baker, 36, his wife Billie and their two young children are covered under a generous health insurance plan offered by the private Midwestern university where he’s worked for 10 years. When they opened their benefits notice this year, they were pleased to see their $385 premium is only up by four dollars next year. However, they were shocked to discover that instead of covering the first dollar they spend with no deductible, the Baker’s plan now includes a $1,000 deductible and a $2,500 out of pocket maximum. They also will still have small co-pays for services.

According to the enrollment notice, the changes are “to relieve future health plan trend pressure and to put the university in a position to avoid the excise tax that becomes effective in 2018.” The 40 percent excise tax—often called the “Cadillac tax”— is part of Obamacare and is levied on the most generous health plans. It’s designed to bring down overall health costs by making companies and workers more cost-conscious. The thinking is that if consumers have to pay more expenses themselves, through higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, they’ll avoid unnecessary or overly costly procedures. And that is supposed to make care more affordable for everyone.

I have to quibble with NBC’s analysis of the PlaceboCare Cadillac plan tax – it’s designed not to drive down costs, but to ensure that, except for the favored nomenklatura, nobody gets high-quality care. I am frankly surprised that some entities, specifically the non-union shops that are the primary targets, are reacting 4 years early.

That will just make the eventual repeal at the behest of the unions, which by 2017 will be essentially the only places still offering group health insurance, that much more odious.

October 29, 2013

It’s official – Obama administration violating the 9-month-minimum coverage-or-penalty provision of PlaceboCare law

by @ 10:56. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National.

You heard the rumblings here last week about the Obama administration looking into administratively rewriting their signature law one more time to benefit those who can’t use their PlaceboCare exchange website by 2/15/2014. Yesterday, they made it official. From the AP:

The extension — granted for 2014 only — addresses confusion that was created when the administration set the first open enrollment period under the law from Oct. 1-March 31.

The problem was that health insurance coverage typically starts on the first day of a given month, and it takes up to 15 days to process applications. So somebody signing up March 16 — well within the open enrollment period — wouldn’t get coverage until April 1, thereby risking a penalty for being uninsured part of the year.

While there is a limited authority for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to grant individual waivers from the ta…er…penalty, the key word is “limited”. Specifically, that authority extends only to those who have “no affordable qualified health plan available through the Exchange, or the individual’s employer, covering the individual”, or to those covered by the other, specified exemptions from the individual mandate. Mere “glitches” and general failures of the exchange website do not qualify as a complete lack of available plans.

October 24, 2013

PlaceboCare Über Alles, IRS Edition?

by @ 9:05. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National, Taxes.

The IRS choosing to implement its portions of PlaceboCare fully as its top priority during the 17% Shutdown instead of ensuring it could start receiving individual income tax returns on-time next year is the charge House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) leveled after the IRS announced that it will not be starting the Tax Year 2013 filing season on-time. Camp noted that the prior tax season, the IRS managed to start accepting tax returns on-time even though there were wholesale changes approved by Congress in December 2012, though my memory says it was delayed by a couple days.

The IRS counter-claimed that they were in the middle of building a new system for the Tax Year 2013 filing season when they were forced to prioritize. One can only hope that they didn’t choose the 404Care Exchange designers for that.

The significance of the delay is those big spenders who budgeted for a big income tax refund check to arrive February 2014 (an aside – that is perhaps the stupidest financial decision one can make) won’t get one.

October 23, 2013

Broken website? We’ll just break the law (again).

by @ 19:36. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National.

Unless you’ve been in a cave watching NBCCBSABCCNNPMSDNC or reading the NYTWaPoLATUSATodayYourLocalPaintcatcher, you know that we’ve entered the third week of EPIC FAIL of PlaceboCare’s exchange website. Not two weeks after they torpedoed the GOP’s “fallback” position of a 1-year delay in the individual mandate to buy PlaceboCare “coverage”, Democrats have started calling for a “delay” until the exchanges are actually up and running, a process that likely will take months.

The early response from Team SCOAMT:

Before I continue, I need to explain a couple things. Health insurance is sold by the month, with coverage beginning on the first day of a month. In order to get coverage for the following month, one must complete the application process 2 weeks prior to the month.

There is a ta…er…penalty for not having PlaceboCare “coverage” (the greater of $95 or 1% of one’s adjusted gross income for 2014, payable when one files one’s 2014 income tax return in winter/spring 2015), with a 2-consecutive-month grace period for non-“coverage”. That means, at least according to the state of law when the sun rose this morning, one had to complete their PlaceboCare exchange application by February 15 to get coverage for March and thus not pay at least 3 months’ worth of ta…er…penalty. Since PlaceboCare’s 2014 open-enrollment period ends on March 31, that is the last day one can avoid paying the full 2014 ta…er…penalty, but one would still be liable for 4 months’ worth of the ta…er…penalty because they wouldn’t have “coverage” until May 1.

Now, I can continue. There was some confusion on whether the “6-week delay” would be an extension of the PlaceboCare open-enrollment period until mid-May or an increase in the “grace” period described above. I’ll let Phillip Klein explain why administratively extending the administratively-set end of the open-enrollment period is illegal.

NBC News later clarified what Team SCOAMT was talking about:

As the law stands now, individuals are expected to begin the application process via HealthCare.gov by Feb. 15 to avoid a financial penalty. But under the prospective change, individuals will be expected to have started enrollment by March to avoid incurring the penalty.

It figures that they would go with the more-blatantly-illegal route. 26 USC § 5000A (e) (4) specifically proscribes the exemption from the ta…er…penalty for those with “short coverage gaps”:

(4) Months during short coverage gaps

(A) In general
Any month the last day of which occurred during a period in which the applicable individual was not covered by minimum essential coverage for a continuous period of less than 3 months.

(B) Special rules
For purposes of applying this paragraph—

(i)the length of a continuous period shall be determined without regard to the calendar years in which months in such period occur,

(ii)if a continuous period is greater than the period allowed under subparagraph (A), no exception shall be provided under this paragraph for any month in the period, and

(iii)if there is more than 1 continuous period described in subparagraph (A) covering months in a calendar year, the exception provided by this paragraph shall only apply to months in the first of such periods.
The Secretary shall prescribe rules for the collection of the penalty imposed by this section in cases where continuous periods include months in more than 1 taxable year.

In short, the United States Code, which prior to Teh SCOAMT’s ascension to the Oval Office, trumped administrative decisions, mandates that those without PlaceboCare “coverage” for more than 2 months must be ta…er…penalized. Of course, in the ObamiNation, Teh Royal Team SCOAMT decrees override any and all laws or provisions of the Constitution.

October 14, 2013

Office of the Commissoner of Insurance – “Fewer than 50″ Wisconsinites signed up for PlaceboCare

by @ 13:31. Filed under PlaceboCare.

The MacIver News Service reports that the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, which is still titularly in charge of regulating even health insurance in Wisconsin, called up each of the 13 insurance companies that have coughed up a fee to be on the still-broken PlaceboCare individual insurance exchange, and found that fewer than 50 people signed up for PlaceboCare through the exchange.

A bonus item from the piece – only half of the insurance companies offering individual plans, and fewer than a third of those offering small-business group plans, paid the fee to get listed on their respective exchanges.

October 10, 2013

How many people would have avoided PlaceboCare’s tax had the exchanges worked 100% from Day One?

by @ 8:11. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National, Taxes.

(H/T – Hot Air commenter MobileVideoEngineer)

3,800,000 according to DNC Chair (and Congresswoman) Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL). That’s right – the PlaceboCare exchange website was designed to handle a grand total of 50,000 people per day. There are 76 days, including weekends and holidays, between October 1 and December 15, the last day to sign up for PlaceboCare to be covered starting in January and thus not taxe…er…fined for not having PlaceboCare coverage.

No wonder why the IRS is saying the PlaceboCare exchanges are going “as planned”. They stand to get a rather-substantial ill-gotten windfall.

Revisions/extensions (8:15 10/10/2013) - I forgot to mention that, just like every other Rat-introduced health-related spending disaster, the PlaceboCare exchanges busted the budget by orders of magnitude. It was supposed to cost $94 million; instead, the cost is $634 million and counting.

R&E part 2 (18:20 10/10/2013) - It’s supposedly 50,000 at a time, not per day. Of course, that’s less than half the capacity of the GOP’s Medicare drug benefit expansion, which if memory serves was also available through snail mail.

October 2, 2013

The PlaceboCare national hotline number is…

by @ 19:41. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National.

1-800-F1UCK YOU (or for those of you who can’t spell on a phone handset, 1-800-318-2596, with the 8-for-U not necessary).

What, were 1-800-382-5968 (FUCK-YOU), 1-800-358-5936 (FLUKE YOU, courtesy Myron Falwell in the comments section of Duane Patterson’s piece), and all the 888/877/866/855 variations of those two taken? Then again, Fluke does rhyme with fuck, so HHS might be counting on the low-information voters needing to L33T-spell phonetically.

October 1, 2013

Abele dumping county employees onto PlaceboCare?

Just a quick catch-up note or two; I’m BAAAAAACK! Also, a lengthier version of this was posted at Hot Air’s Green Room. You can thank (or curse, as the case may be), Ed later.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is including a proposal to dump all 4,400 county employees onto PlaceboCare, offering a “tax-neutral subsidy” to buy insurance on the exchanges. He claims that providing “subsidies”, really pay increases so he doesn’t have to go hat in hand to the Obama administration for the same exemption from the no-employer-subsidy law Congress got, for the employees to purchase insurance on the PlaceboCare exchanges will save the county $10 million per year. Even though the county is expecting to otherwise pay UnitedHealthCare nearly $14,000 per employee next year, I somehow doubt the math will work to that extent. After all, the not-exactly-functional exchanges will charge Wisconsinites some of the highest premiums in the country, with the “silver” plan having a Milwaukee-area retail (i.e. pre-subsidy) price of just over $11,000 per year for a family of 4. There are also open questions of whether units of government will be charged the $3,000 per employee tax fine other large employers not offering health insurance will eventually be charged and whether, to make it tax-”neutral”, the county can offer “pre-tax” dollars.

Even though earlier rumblings out of the Board had been negative toward this idea when it was merely a rumor floating around the courthouse, Board Chair Marina Dimitrijevic was quoted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as saying she was “always interested in studying ideas that could expand health care options and produce savings.” That suggests that the Board might be on board this idea.

This is all possible without much fear of a union backlash because of 2011’s Act 10, which allows units of government in Wisconsin to dictate the terms of non-wage compensation to unions, just as they had to non-union employees. I know I’ve seen stories of other local governments nationwide at least threatening to end employer-provided health coverage, but I cannot remember what I’ve done with the links to the stories. Of note, the FY2014-FY2015 state budget did not take health insurance benefits away from state employees even though most of the same Republicans who passed Act 10 passed that budget.

June 27, 2012

I wouldn’t want to be Bo tomorrow!

If you blog about politics, it’s hard not to toss a blog up prior to tomorrow’s announcement re: Placebocare.

I’m on vacation in the great northern parts of Minnesota so this won’t be long. I want it down to play against after the decision is revealed and for posterity…it’s too damn easy to say “yeah, I knew that’s what would happen!”

Placebocare is going down in flames. I say this not because I want it to…I do, but because of the signs along the way.

Ginsberg inkled the decision a few weeks back when she said that the decisions would have “sharp disagreement.” I can’t see her making this comment without the single most important case of the session, and arguably of this generation, in mind.

Second, it appears that Chief Justice Roberts himself will be writing the opinion for the case. There is much rumor on this but it makes sense as he is the only justice who has not written one this go around. I think the fact that Roberts writes the opinion makes the mandate a goner.

As to the rest of Placebocare, I think once the mandate is gone, the Supreme Court will also decide that the rest of the bill needs to go. I think there will be two likely arguments for this.

First, the Commerce Clause has been used as an excuse for Congress to pass legislation on damn near anything they wanted to for the past 40 years or so. “The slippery slope” is no longer a theory, it is real. I think that given that the administration argued for the right to do this under the Commerce Clause, the Supremes will take this chance to council Congress on what is and what is not acceptable to slide under the Commerce Clause door. I would expect Roberts to see this decision as his legacy in the court. I don’t seem him passing up this opportunity to put his stamp on the history of the court.

Second, the Administration gave the Supremes the perfect out on shooting the entire bill as they argued that the mandate was essential to make Placebocare work financially. I can’t remember who, it may have been Roberts, made the astute observation that it was somewhat indefensible of the Administration to ask the Supremes to figure out the financial implications of what should stay or go in the Placebocare law if the mandate was struck. Hell, Nancy Pelosi didn’t even know what was in the bill until it was signed but knew it was a good law. How could the Supremes be more omniscient than Nancy P and Harry R?

OK, so Placebocare is dead, then what?

Well, if you thought Obama was petulant after he got slapped on Arizona, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

If this goes as I see it, Obama is a lame duck. Worse, he’s a dead duck politically. Unfortunately, he will still hold the office of President for several more months. I don’t expect Obama to go quietly into that good night. Rather, like post Arizona, I think we could see petulance at a level not seen since the last of the Roman emperors. We are likely to see all kinds of Executive orders made dealing with administration and fund dispersal of various federally supported medical programs. Obama’s sole intent will be to leave office with a great big “I told you so” sign on his bumper. He will attempt to cause chaos in as many medical programs as possible just to be able to say that his plan would have prevented all of that. In fact, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see him do this and couch it as things he must now do to be fiscally responsible

Obama has shown himself to be a very sore loser. I wouldn’t want to be Bo his dog, tomorrow night!

April 1, 2012

Meme, Meme, Meeeeeme!

It somehow seemed fitting that as it reached it’s “terrible twos,” Placebocare reached the Supreme Court. After three days of arguments, whether Placebocare, in whole or part, gets to see it’s “terrific threes” is now left to nine people who regularly wear black robes to the work place.

I’m not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. However, it seems that the preponderance of opinion on both the Left and Right is that the Administration did a horrible job of making its case. Many, again on both sides, believe the individual mandate is in serious trouble. Beyond that, there is growing concern that whether the Justices believe the mandate to be severable or not may be moot. The whole of Placebocare could go down not over a severability argument but because the law is so complex and so intertwined on so many levels that the Justices may well feel that it is not within their ability to judge what stays or goes and instead give Congress a “do over” on the whole law.

Typically in a Supreme Court case, once the case is argued there may be a few days of public speculation as to the outcome if the case was unique or particularly important, like the Kelo decision. I don’t think that pattern will hold with Placebocare.

In a sign that the Left is both worried and is positioning for fall elections, we are seeing and will continue to see articles like this one from Slate.

Let’s skip past the “if you believe Placebocare is unconstitutional you must be a redneck from Kentucky” comment like:

The smart money before the argument was on an 8-1 upholding of Obamacare.

and head straight for what we will hear from now until the day the Supreme’s announce their decision…and if the Left loses, what we will hear as Obama’s campaign standard:

If it overturns Obamacare, the Supreme Court will have revealed its radical nature.

You see to the Left, the Supreme Court is only “Supreme” when it agrees with their agenda. When it doesn’t agree, it is there to be politicized like a group of nine “Joe the Plumbers.” President Obama showed us clearly how this works with his 2010 State of the Union Speech. During the speech, in reference to the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, President Obama openly criticized the Supremes. He claimed that they “reversed a century of law.” It was President Obama’s way of saying “they’re radical.”

Between now and the end of June when the Supreme Court is expected to release it’s decision, the MSM and other left media outlets will be attempting to taunt the Supreme Court to see things their way. Taunts like “radical,” “legitimacy” and “ideologues” will be included in numerous recounts of the arguments and the possible ramifications of the outcome. If the decision goes against the Administration, you can bank on Obama using these same taunts in an effort to galvanize his slipping support in an effort to make the Supreme Court the reason for his reelection. In fact, if, as I suspect, Sotomayer leaks the decision to the Administration, you can expect to see Obama cranking this rhetoric as a preemptive strike on what will be a harmful decision.

It’s going to be a long spring folks. Politics will not be leaving stage front and center for another several months, maybe a year. In the meantime, expect to hear a lot of taunting of the Supreme Court. Like the kids of our youth I can already hear the left yelling, “Meme, Meme, Meeeeeme!”

Update 4/2 10:38 AM didn’t know Allen West was a reader of NRE. Welcome aboard Allen!

update 2 4/2 3:01 PM No I’m not clairvoyant I just understand how the Left “thinks.” Expect to see a lot more of this in the coming weeks. In fact, the more you see of it the better as it will be a confirmation that Placebocare will be struck down

Update 3: 4/2 3:55 PM Oh, my gosh, my sides hurt I’m laughing so hard! I’m almost ready to declare Placebocare is going down in total…almost but not yet!

March 1, 2012

Thank you, Thank you very much!

It’s been a couple of interesting weeks on the Obamacare front.

First, Obama Inc. told the Catholic Church that they had to offer contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans. I covered that little episode here.

Obama Inc. made a poorly camouflaged attempt to acquiesce without actually changing anything. Their proposal was to not require the Catholic Church, but to require their insurers to provide the contraception at no cost.

After 22.5 seconds of consideration, the Church came back with their response..NYET! In fact, not only NYET but if you force us, we’ll close our hospitals and other institutions.

Also recently, a study was released that showed some interesting early information on the reality of costs associated with Obamacare. You may remember President Obama telling us time and again how Obamacare would bend the cost curve on health care. Well, it turns out he was probably right. The problem is that the cost curve appears to be bent up not down, and at a very steep angle. According to this analysis and report, the first year costs for the high risk pool that covers people with preexisting conditions are running at a rate that is twice what was planned!

Finally, some had theorized that Obama may use the Blunt amendment as a way to let the Catholic Church off the hook while saving face on his administrations earlier edict. Unfortunately, the Blunt amendment was defeated on a mostly partly line vote today so the Catholic Church’s reason to close it’s facilities remains intact.

What are we to make of all this?

Some pundits, including the esteemed Ed Morrissey believe this is a high stakes game of chicken and that in the end, Obama will blink. I don’t buy it. Let’s look at the implications of the various actions I’ve previously noted.

When I looked at the premiums being charge for the high cost fund I noted that my family of 4 would be covered for about $800 per month. That may seem like a lot. However, for similar coverage from the high cost fund when we lived in Minnesota, we were paying nearly $1,500/month and that was two years ago. My point is that not only is the Obamacare high cost fund costing a lot more than it’s counterparts, it is also charging a lot less than its state counterparts. Last I looked, high costs and low revenue didn’t make a successful business. The outcome, if this is allowed to continue, is that insurance companies will be saddled with higher costs and lower revenues. This, over time, will force weaker insurance companies out of the business. Fewer insurance companies will lead to fewer choices which in turn, will lead to higher insurance costs.

I don’t think Obama will blink for the Catholic Church. As I noted earlier, he had the perfect opportunity to get a way out via the Blunt amendment. The amendment would have allowed church organizations to object and not provide certain coverages but would have required all other businesses to continue to provide whatever mandate Obama Inc. came up with. The tell for me is that this was voted down on nearly a party line vote. There are numerous Democrats in “swing” states who are up for election this year. There’s no way this is going to work in their favor. Had Obama wanted an out for the Catholic Church, there is no doubt in my mind that Harry Reid would have allowed just enough Democrats to vote for the amendment and “grudgingly” allowed it to pass. The fact that it didn’t means Obama is playing for keeps.

Finally, the Catholic Church threat. According to Morrissey, nearly 16% of admissions are served by Catholic hospitals. Nearly a third of those hospitals are in lesser served rural areas. If the Church does indeed pull their hospitals and other organizations, it will create a health care shortage of significant proportions in many areas of the U.S..

Contrary to the notion that Obama will blink, I think Obama is setting up exactly what he wants in health care.

If insurance costs skyrocket due to fewer providers and higher costs and access to care becomes scarcer due to a boycott by the Catholic Church, Obama, should he win a second election, will have the perfect pretense to declare a crisis and push, declare, impose or legislate for a national health care, single payer system…which is what he has wanted all along.

I will admit that it is possible that I’m wrong but I haven’t been wrong about much with this President. If I’m wrong, look for one of the following things to occur:

1. The Blunt amendment is brought back (it was tabled) and narrowly passes.
2. The Supreme Court rules that the health care mandate is unconstitutional before the election.

Any of these things could indicate that Obama won’t or isn’t able to eat the entire loaf. However, I don’t think either of these will happen. Rather, I think that Obama has planned this approach and as the Catholic Church threatened, if you listen closely you will hear Obama saying, “Thank you, Thank you very much!”

Four years of a Medicare Funding Warning, zero years of Obama action

by @ 12:04. Filed under Health Care Reform, Politics - National.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, fired off a letter to the White House in the wake of the fourth consecutive year of the Obama Administration’s decision to not address the now-current funding crisis of Medicare in violation of law. From the press release announcing the letter:

“Within fifteen days of presenting his budget plan, the President is required by law to send a legislative proposal to Congress to address Medicare’s looming insolvency. For four straight years, this ‘Medicare trigger’ has been issued. And for four straight years, President Obama has ignored the alarm and fled his post. America’s debt, as measured by the International Monetary Fund, is now worse than Greece on a per-capita basis. The course President Obama has laid out leads to fiscal ruin. His budget plan raises taxes by $2 trillion, increases the debt by $11 trillion, and increases spending by $1.6 trillion.

“The President’s unserious approach to Medicare will have serious consequences for seniors. President Obama continues to ignore his legal and moral obligations to protect the health security of America’s seniors. While he refuses to advance credible solutions to strengthen Medicare, the President’s health-care law does great harm to this critical program – raiding Medicare by over $500 billion to fund a new open-ended entitlement, while leaving the fate of seniors’ care to a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats in Washington. There is a growing bipartisan consensus on how best to preserve the Medicare guarantee, but the President won’t join this discussion. The President is required by law to respond to the Medicare Trustees’ annual warning, and – as a matter of fundamental leadership – is duty-bound to do so.

“Meanwhile, the Democratic leaders in the Senate refuse to bring a budget plan to the floor for the third straight year. The livelihoods, savings and futures of millions of hardworking Americans are at stake, but the President and his party’s leaders can’t even be bothered to fulfill their most basic obligations in a time of crisis.”

A bit of background is in order – as part of the creation of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, a reqirement was put into place requriring, if the Medicare trustees find in two consecutive years that general funds, be they interest on the Treasury securities held by three “Trust Fund” accounts held by Medicare, redemptions of same, or other “general fund” revenues, do, or will within 6 fiscal years, comprise more than 45% of total Medicare outlays (or once the Hospital Insurance Fund was depleted, the “dedicated” funds are less than 55% of total obligations whether fulfilled or unfulfilled), the President to submit to Congress legislation to deal with said excessive general funding within 15 days of submitting the following year’s budget.

The first year the trustees found that situation becoming a probability based on the “intermediate-case” scenario was 2006, with FY2012 projected to require more than 45% of Medicare’s outlays come from the general fund. This imbalance was projected to arrive despite a pending reduction of physician reimbursement fees that had been called for since the prior decade and postponed every time since because of fears doctors would flee the Medicare program if the reductions were to happen (the postponement is known as the “doc fix”). Each time the “doc fix” was extended, the pain that would be caused if it was not extended yet again grew.

The 2007 Trustees’ Report, while it pushed off the year of reckoning to FY2013, triggered the “Medicare funding warning” as it was still within the 7-year scope of the trigger and the second consecutive finding. Accordingly, President Bush had Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt submit in February 2008, just after he submitted the FY2009 budget, what became H.R. 5480 and S. 2662. Those two bills were promptly buried in committee by the Democrats running both Houses of Congress.

The 2008 Trustees’ Report once again pushed off the year of reckoning to FY2014, which was once again at the very end of the 7-year scope of the trigger. President Obama chose not to submit any legislation despite his party controlling both Houses. Instead, we got PlaceboCare at the beginning of 2010, while the 2009 Trustees’ Report, breaking with the postponement history, once again put the year of reckoning as FY2014.

Fresh from his victory on PlaceboCare, Obama failed to address the immediate problem, and much like the “unanticipated” rapid decline of the Social Security “Trust Funds”, the state of the Medicare “Trust Funds” also declined very rapidly. The 2010 Trustees’ Report found that the year of reckoning had come that fiscal year, as general revenues were set to comprise more than 45% of the total Medicare expenditures in FY2010, with a projected temporary return to general funds needing to cover less than 45% of expenditures in FY2012. Instead of addressing this in early 2011, Obama and Congress once again extended the “doc fix” a bunch of times, which by that point represented a significant “overrun” versus budget.

Tired of waiting for any sign of leadership from the White House out of a very-predictable fiscal crisis, the House Budget Committee included a version of Medicare reform first outlined in Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America. While it would not have stopped the warning in the 2011 Trustees’ Report as FY2011 was more than half over, it would have put the program on the path to no longer triggering said warnings and ultimately long-term solvency while permanently implementing the “doc fix”. Unfortunately, just as the 2008 legislation designed to address what was then a future funding problem in Medicare, that budget was buried by the Democrats in the Senate as part of their three-year-long refusal to pass any budget, and because the only action on Medicare was continued extensions of the “doc fix”, general revenues comprised more than 45% of expenditures in FY2011 and FY2012.

Speaking of that 2011 Trustees’ Report, it pushed back the return to temporary overall Medicare stability to FY2013. Once again, instead of addressing the problem, Obama and Congress extended the “doc fix”, making it all but certain that for the fourth consecutive year and probably a fifth with no corrective action, general revenues will comprise more than 45% of Medicare expenditures.

The House Budget Committee will once again attempt to reform Medicare along the lines of a premium-support program. This time, there is some support from the other side of the aisle, even if that support won’t be too public until after November and then only if there is a change in the White House, Senate, or both.

February 12, 2012

Peek-A-Boo America!

As the battle between President Obama and the Catholic Church continued, President Obama attempted to diffuse the growing angst with something he classified as a “compromise.” The compromise from the White House’s fact sheet:

Under the new policy to be announced today, women will have free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where she works. The policy also ensures that if a woman works for a religious employer with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide, pay for or refer for contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to directly offer her contraceptive care free of charge.

Wow, that’s great! Religious organizations no longer have to pay for insurance that provides for contraceptive coverage! How magnanimous on the part of the President! In fact, the President who would be King, has fixed the problem by decreeing that all insurance companies must provide said contraceptive coverage in the plans offered to these religious institutions for FREE!

o Insurance companies will be required to provide contraception coverage to these women free of charge.

If I’m reading this right, Obama believes that the issue the Catholic Church had, was paying for the cost of contraception. I’m not Catholic but I do understand a fair amount of their doctrine. I’m pretty sure that the Church didn’t have a proviso that allowed for contraception if you could get someone else to pay for it! In fact, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops have already called out Obama for his ruse that he claims is a “compromise:”

And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer’s plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.

Beyond the theological issue, I’m having a tough time figuring out how exactly, Obama believes that forcing the insurance companies to provide something “for free” does not result in having the insurer pay for it? Does Obama really believe that by simply saying “it is free” that it actually is free? I’ve been a Southerner for nearly two years now. However, unless they’ve rewritten the rules of economics in that time, the only thing Obama’s mandate has done is shift costs and increase the costs for all of our insurance to pay for the contraceptive services for those who get it for “free”. In fact, some accounts have the costs for this “free contraception” as high as $2.8B, a portion of which will now be shared by all 60+ year old women and all males. Speaking of which, if we’re all so concerned about making sure contraception is free, where are my coupons for condoms?

Peek-A-Boo is a game played with young children. We’ve all likely played it at some time. In Peek-A-Boo we play on the young child’s lack of understanding about reality. We attempt to convince them that when we cover our eyes, we somehow disappear even though the child can still see us. it’s a game that loses it’s cuteness as the child grows to understand that reality is reality and that words or claims that reality isn’t so, doesn’t change reality.

Obama’s contraception “compromise” is in the end, nothing more than a game of Peek-A-Boo with the American public. Obama makes claims about insurance economics that simply are not born out by reality. Of course, you would have to have matured beyond the economic age of two to actually realize such a thing. An economic age that most on the left never approach, let alone grow beyond.

Peek-A-Boo seems so innocuous with toddlers, and it is. However, as adults, Peek-A-Boo is escapism and an inability to deal with the world in real terms. Unfortunately, it is this very game of Peek-A-Boo that most in DC would use to tell us that: Massive Deficits aren’t a problem, Every increasing debt isn’t a problem, growing numbers of people on the government dole is not a problem, fewer and fewer actual tax payers aren’t a problem, Iran isn’t a problem, increasing costs of energy aren’t a problem and 8+% unemployment is the new norm. To those people who want to continue to play Peek-A-Boo rather than solve problems I say:

“I see you!”

November 11, 2011

SEIU siphons Medicaid funds from recipients in Michigan

by @ 17:43. Filed under Health, Politics.

The Washington Examiner explains how Michigan Democrats and the SEIU (though I repeat myself) conspired to make those who accept Meicaid payments to help pay for the health care of their disabled adult children “state employees”, with the requisite $30/month kickba…er, dues payment to the SEIU automatically deducted from the Medicaid payment.

We came quite close to having the same thing happen in Wisconsin. One of the things the Democrats did shortly after they seized control of the Assembly following the 2008 elections (and thus the entirety of the lawmaking apparatus) was ram through union recognition of “independent home care workers”. They came within a defection of the then-Senate Democrat/Majority leader of ratifying said contract.

September 29, 2011

Researchers hate Eggs (or at least the runny kind)

by @ 21:13. Filed under Health.

(H/T – Hot Air Headlines)

The Daily Mail reports on a Harvard study that claims that eating as few as 3 eggs a week increases the risk for prostate cancer by 80%.

We’re all gonna die!!!!

Seriously, this came a few years after the British Heart Foundation dropped their recommendation to stop eating more than 3 eggs a week. It also comes immediately before a report from the NRE Institute that consuming a copious amount of well-cooked eggs actually improves your health.

September 27, 2011

The opposite of PlaceboCare

by @ 19:30. Filed under Health Care Reform.

Those of you who have been paying attention to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, and my Congressman) know the main parts of his ideas on health care. At the Hoover Institute today, he added a new twist – a full shift of the tax credits from the employer to the employees. You can read the speech or listen to it and a question-and-answer session…

I’ll give some highlights, along with the obligatory commentary:

Today, I will attempt to make the case for optimism. Specifically, I come bearing three pieces of good news.

The first piece of good news is this: The urgent need to repeal and replace the President’s health-care law, coupled with the urgent need to deal with the drivers of our debt, will present us with an unavoidable time for choosing, allowing us to confront health-care inflation head-on.

Ryan isn’t counting on the Supreme Court using the lack of severability in PlaceboCare to overturn the entirety of it by finding the individual insurance mandate unconstitutional, even though it is likely the Supreme Court will decide on that in the next 9 months (hmmm, what else in the health care field takes 9 months?). Instead, he’s not letting this crisis go to waste.

…And yet, across the federal landscape, choice and competition are undermined by poorly designed programs and tax policies.

In Medicare, the government reimburses all providers of care according to a one-size-fits-all formula, even if the quality of the care they provide is poor and the cost is high. This top-down delivery system exacerbates waste, because none of the primary stakeholders has a strong incentive to deliver the best-quality care for the lowest cost.

If you’re using Medicare, good luck finding a doctor because of this.

In Medicaid, a flawed federal-state matching formula is blowing out state budgets. There is no limit on the federal government’s matching contributions to state spending, so state governments spend most of their energy devising ways to maximize how much they can get from the federal government, rather than focusing on delivering high quality, cost-effective coverage for their most vulnerable citizens.

A prime example is former governor Jim “Craps” Doyle’s (WEAC/HoChunk-For Sale) increase in the hospital bed tax. It was sold as allowing Wisconsin to suck more money out of the federal teat.

Beyond these two programs, our current tax code provides additional fuel for runway health care inflation. Under current law, employer-sponsored health insurance plans are entirely exempt from taxation, regardless of how much an individual contributes to their policy.

This tilts the compensation scale toward benefits, which are tax-free, and away from higher wages, which are taxable. It also provides ways for high-income earners to artificially reduce their tax-able income by purchasing high-cost health coverage – which in turn can fuel the overuse of health services.

There’s countless examples of people taking and hangong onto jobs they don’t really want, or not taking jobs they’re suited for, just because of the presence of or lack of employer-sponsored health insurance. Elsewhere in the speech, Ryan pointed out the current scheme of insurance decouples the amount visibly paid to the proviers from the actual cost.

February 3, 2011

JB – “PlaceboCare’s dead, Jim”

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen didn’t mince any words when discussing the effect of the ruling from federal Judge Roger Vinson declaring PlaceboCare unconstitutional. As quoted by the Wisconsin State Journal:

“For Wisconsin, the federal health care law is dead — unless and until it is revived by an appellate court,” Van Hollen said in a statement this week. “Effectively, Wisconsin was relieved of any obligations or duties that were created under terms of the federal health care law.”

Of course, in the absence of an injunction, that depends on the feds actually listening to the courts. Unlike Judge Vinson, I’m not at all confident the gang occupying the Executive Branch are willing to do that.

January 5, 2011

Was That a Tingle I Just Felt?

On Monday, Harry Reid and some of his bestest Senate comrades, sent a letter to new House Speaker John Boehner.  In it, they warned him against proceeding with any action that would attempt to repeal Placebocare.  Shortly thereafter, it was announced that the House will vote January 12th, on a bill to repeal Placebocare in its entirety.

An aside:

I have had strong reservations about Boehner.  What I have seen from him in the past has me concerned that he talks a tough game but that in the end, he works the “let’s all get along” deals that move this country on a continual path left.  That said, while I live in Kentucky now, call me from Missouri.  I’m willing to give Boehner the benefit of the doubt and see where his actions lead.  Along with “from Missouri”, I guess you could say I’ll be “doing the Reagan” as I trust but verify.

Yesterday, in response to Harry Reid’s letter to him, Boehner sent the following response:

Senators Reid, Durbin, Schumer, Murray and Stabenow:

Thank you for reminding us – and the American people – of the backroom deal that you struck behind closed doors with ‘Big Pharma,’ resulting in bigger profits for the drug companies, and higher prescription drug costs for 33 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D, at a cost to the taxpayers of $42.6 billion.

The House is going to pass legislation to repeal that now. You’re welcome.

– Speaker-Designate John Boehner’s Press Office

I’m not the type that has physical responses to events but, I could have sworn I just had a tingle run up my leg!

December 31, 2010

Was PlaceboCare designed by the POR team or Henry Ford?

I’m actually beginning to think Henry Ford offered more options on the Model T than PlaceboCare does. George Scoville lists just some of the items that, as of tomorrow, will no longer be able to be purchased with Health Savings Account money without a prescription:

  • Acid controllers
  • Acne medicine
  • Aids for indigestion
  • Allergy and sinus medicine
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine
  • Baby rash ointment
  • Cold and flu medicine
  • Eye drops
  • Feminine anti-fungal or anti-itch products
  • Hemorrhoid treatment
  • Laxatives or stool softeners
  • Lice treatments
  • Motion sickness medicines
  • Nasal sprays or drops
  • Ointments for cuts, burns or rashes
  • Pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen

“Strangely” enough, birth control, reading glasses (of course, Congress can’t read, so it won’t help them) and contact lens solutions can still be bought over-the-counter with HSA money.

December 27, 2010

They told me if…PlaceboCare Death Panel edition

by @ 13:52. Filed under Health Care Reform, Politics - National.

(H/T – Ed Morrissey)

Shortly after the mandatory every-5-year “Just die already” speech was stripped from PlaceboCare because of the backlash led by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, the New York Times reports that, not only did the Obama administration slip it back in administratively via the same mechanism that forces every state to have drinking age of 21 and primary enforcement of mandatory seat belt laws (the dangling of money), but that instead of getting the speech every five years, you’ll get it annually.

Jimmie Bise has a lot more wrapup, while WISN-AM’s Mark Belling, filling in for Rush Limbaugh, has been hammering home the fact that, even though it is officially even more “voluntary” as said federal drinking age, it is as much a mandate. There is no distinction between offering extra money to force a decision and withholding money to force said decision.

Remember when Teh Won said that doctors took out tonsils for profit? They told me, if I voted for Palin, doctors would profit from telling me to die. AND THEY WERE RIGHT!

Update by Shoebox:

The Death Panels are only half of the story. In the past week, Sebelius and her pack of flying monkeys have also issued rules (all as part of Placebocare), that requires any insurance company who dares raise rates more than 10%, to face a health care inquisition.

Now, it’s clear that no one in the Obama abomination administration has any economic training.  If they did, they would recognize that there is a very bright light heading towards them from the opposite end of the tunnel and it’s not the end of the tunnel. 

Econ 101, whether macro or micro, will tell you that if you remove the ability for prices to reflect increasing costs, the result is a restriction on the amount of the service or good offered.  If you doubt this, simply look at any attempt to set prices and you will note that in time, the good or service for which the price is artificially set, either becomes so poor in quality (an attempt to reduce the costs) or has severe shortages in the amount offered so as not to any longer resemble the original product or service.  I wonder which, poor quality or less availability, the Obama administration is targeting under Placebocare?

So, to sum it all up, under Placebocare we have people “counseling” about how to end your life without any of the “expensive” treatments.  And, you have a limit on the amount of premium increases.  Sounds like those two go hand in hand don’t you think?

December 7, 2010

Doing the Wave!

by @ 19:34. Filed under Health Care Reform, Politics - National.

Jamie Dupree is reporting that the waivers from provisions of Placebocare continue to roll up on shore.

The Obama Administration has quietly granted even more waivers to one provision of the new federal health reform law, doubling the number in just the last three weeks to a new total of 222.

Amongst the new grantees are Waffle House and Universal Orlando.

These new grantees bring a particularly poignant irony to the debate over the merits of Placebocare.

In the case of both Waffle House and Universal Orlando, the companies were providing “mini-med” insurance policies. These policies cover medical conditions similar to how other major medical plans provide coverage. They differ from traditional plans in that they have an annual maximum that is typically much lower than a traditional plan. By providing a lower maximum payout, insurance companies are able to mitigate risk they would have on these plans. If they have less risk, it costs them less to provide the coverage. If it costs them less, they are able to charge lower premiums.

If you remember, among the various reasons we were told that Placebocare was required was that there were many, many people who didn’t have insurance and that market forces were unable to provide for these people. In the case of both Waffle House and Universal Orlando (as well as other companies like McDonald’s) they were providing insurance options for people who traditionally have few insurance options; part time workers. However, Placebocare, in its attempt to force compliance on all, mandates that insurance policies can no longer have any annual or lifetime caps on coverage. The result is that without the exemption, companies like Waffle House and Universal Orlando would no longer be able to offer their current coverage which would mean that their employees would have no coverage at all.

Oh, those mean employers! I mean, who would want a policy that has a smaller annual cap? Who wouldn’t want a cadillac plan? Young, part time workers, that’s who. Think about it. Young people are typically the healthiest amongst us. They don’t tend to get major major illnesses which are what drive the high annual or lifetime caps. However, being young and especially if they are part time workers, even a single medical issue like a broken bone, could cause them severe financial challenges. In the competitive world of labor, Waffle House, Universal Orlando, McDonalds and others saw this need and in order to obtain and maintain quality talent, found a market based solution to solve the problem. A market based solution that would no longer exist without the waiver and will no longer exist after the year waiver is up!

Hey, wait. I thought we could keep our coverage if we liked it?

November 29, 2010

When is a respirator “normal” versus “extraordinary” life-sustaining technology?

by @ 14:12. Filed under Health.

I’m having a hard time deciding just what side to come down in the case of Dan Crews, found in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The short version, relying heavily on medical records supplied by Crews, with Froedtert Hospital officials refusing to comment:

  • 24 years ago, 3-year-old Dan Crews was paralyzed from the neck down in a car accident, and was taken to Froedtert Hospital. Though he can eat and is currently otherwise healthy, he requires a respirator to breathe.
  • In a court settlement, Crews received $4 million, which his father said was supposed to just cover his expected 20-year life expectancy. That money continues to allow him to live in Illinois with his mother and hire a pair of nurses to help take care of him, though what hasn’t been put into a trust in order to allow him to apply for Medicaid will run out soon.
  • 1 1/2 years ago, after 22 1/2 years of lviing with the respirator, and realizing that pursuing a law degree beyond the associate’s degree would be logistically difficult, the major reason he decided that life was no longer living, he asked his spinal cord rehab physician at Froedtert, where he continues to receive care that cannot be done at home, about removing the respirator. Froedtert initiated a palliative care review, and even though one doctor initially made a notation on the charts that Crews was competent to make the decision to remove the respirator, the team expressed concerns that the financial situation and depression were clouding his judgement. Talks stalled at that point as Crews refused to be treated for depression.
  • 5 months ago, Crews staged hunger strike, stopped when his mother checked him into Froedtert and he was told that if he continued, he would be fitted with a feeding tube. Also about this time, he started taking anti-depressants, and his desire to die remains unchanged. Froedtert indicated that he would need to undergo a year of counselling and treatment for depression before they would consider his request.

The part that strikes me the most is that Crews was more than content to have for 6 years as a conscious, sane adult, the respirator, something that I would call “extraordinary” life-sustaining technology as for the bulk of human history, not being able to breathe on one’s own meant death. At some point, even “extraordinary” measures, which I have successfully avoided, take on “normal” status, and I’m pretty sure that comes before the 6-years-of-conscious-and-sane-adult-living point.

That being said, the threat of forcing a feeding tube on someone who by all appearances doesn’t want one is tough to swallow.

October 7, 2010

Clinton lawgiver-in-black – PlaceboCare, Communism mandated by the Constitution

(H/Ts – Allahpundit and Philip Klein)

Lawgiver-In-Black George Steeh, Michigan Eastern District judge appointed by Bill Clinton, ruled that any and every Congressional regulation of any economic decision that just might affect an aspect of interstate commerce that Congress decides to regulate is “Constitutional” under the Commerce Clause. Yes, you read that right – if Congress were so inclined, it can order you to buy a new Government Motors vehicle (and even tell you precisely which vehicle and which options) every three years.

FUCK THEM!

Hope and Change

by @ 19:29. Filed under Health Care Reform.

In just the past week, the following articles have surfaced:
McDonald’s May Drop Health Plan
3M Eliminates Medicare-Eligible Coverage Beginning in 2013
Gee, Thanks, Mr. President
21,000 Iowans to lose Medicare plans

I thought Placebocare was specifically set up so that you, me, all these people, could keep their insurance plans? Where is all of the insurance plan keeping? Oh, here it is….

30 Companies, Other Groups Escape New Health Care Rule for Now

Hope and Change? Nope. Placebocare is nothing but blind ignorance and more “rules are meant for the little people” attitude from Washington!

October 5, 2010

Poof, You’re a Physician – Update

by @ 20:32. Filed under Health Care Reform.

It looks like the fact that rationing will be the result of the implementation of Placebocare is getting more attention and more supportive statistics:

Doc Shortage to Worsen After Healthcare Reform

From the article:

By 2015 — one year after the majority of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have taken effect — the nation will be short 63,000 physicians, a figure that includes both primary care doctors and specialists. Previous estimates put the shortage at 39,600.

Note that the study now shows a shortage of 63K physicians which is nearly double a previous study. The study goes on to state the obvious implication:

“Unless Congress supports at least a 15% increase in residency training slots (adding another 4,000 physicians a year to the pipeline), access to health care will be out of reach for many Americans,” the group said in its press release.

The problem will be most pronounced for people living in rural and underserved areas where finding a doctor can already be a difficult task, according to the report.

What will happen in areas where there aren’t enough physicians? Why of course, people won’t get their health care. But wait, Placebocare was supposed to provide the utopia of health care for all. Nope, just one more example of the fallacy of the “government can provide everything without implications crowd.”

What’s the most concerning part of this problem? That would be that this study is still understating the problem by about half. If you look at the numbers I showed you here, we will need approximately 144,000 additional physicians on the day Placebocare is enacted in order to maintain the same physician/patient ratio as today. The problem with even that number is that it doesn’t take into account physicians who choose not to continue in their profession or the increase visits driven by the fact that Placebocare, and health care in general, will now become free for a significantly larger portion of the US population.

Whether through death panels or the inability to access physician care due to a swamping demand of the system, Placebocare will create rationing of health care. Unless, of course, The One is able to point his magic wand and say “Poof, you’re a physician!”

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