The Democrats Punted the Ball
I am a couple of days later getting this written and posted than I wanted to be, but sometimes, things just happen. Better late than never. This is something I think Texas voters need to be aware of before the November election rolls around; especially those who live in Congressman Chet Edwards’ district. A huge H/T to my friend, Donna, for providing this information. Admittedly, this is rather long, but it is full of valuable information you need to know. Red Diva
Congressman Chet Edwards (a member of the House Budget Committee) along with the rest of the Democrats on the Committee have decided to “punt the ball” and not pass a long-term budget that would have forced fiscal discipline on the out-of-control spending under the Obama administration. Obama’s 2011 budget (released on 2.1.10) was for $3.8 Trillion.
Instead of taking serious action, the House Budget Committee passed what they call a “budget-enforcement resolution” that actually leaves Obama in charge of deciding how to cut the deficit.
Edwards and the rest of the liberal, big-spending Democrats think the less said about the economy, the better. They know perfectly well that the American people are super-enraged about the big spending that has occurred under Obama and that the Nov. 2, 2010 elections are right around the corner.
Because the liberal news media is in league with Obama and the Democrats, we have been surrounded with articles and sound bites blaming President George W. Bush for everything imaginable, and it is time to revisit the truth as documented in the following article.
The left-leaning politicians have their sound bites; now here is one that all of us fiscally responsible citizens need to know by memory, and it is based upon fact:
When Obama walked in the door, our country had an $800 Billion deficit. In one year Obama increased the deficit to $1.4 Trillion!
What we in Texas Congressional District #17 must constantly keep in mind is that Congressman Chet Edwards went right along with Obama, Pelosi, and Reid.
Here is the article written by Donna Garner and Henry Burke.
“Obama Is Breaking the Bank”
by Henry Burke and Donna Garner
Obama recently told the American public that they should tighten their belts and quit “treating the dollar as though it were Monopoly money.” What hypocrisy! He is the one who has played Monopoly with America’s tax dollars.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF DEFICITS
In the November 2006 election, the American public decided to put Democrats in control of Congress while President George W. Bush still had two more years in the White House. From 2007 – 2008, the Democrats were in control of Congress. (Remember that the House is the place where all taxation and spending bills originate.)
In 2007 the budget deficit stood at $162 Billion.
In the first three quarters of 2008 under a Democrat-controlled Congress, the deficit rose to $485 Billion; but in the last quarter of 2008, the deficit went up $100 Billion. That totaled almost $600 Billion.
Then the $700 Billion TARP came on the scene because of AIG, Freddie Mac, and Fanny Mae — the result of bad policies passed by Congress that forced the banking industry to give loans to people who could not possibly repay them (i.e., the subprime mortgage market meltdown).
In the last several months of Bush’s presidency and with a Democrat-controlled Congress, the $700 Billion TARP was passed. However, TARP was a loan and not a grant, and $500 Billion of that has already been repaid. That left a $200 Billion deficit from TARP plus the $600 Billion deficit from Bush. Therefore, when Obama walked in the door, our country had an $800 Billion deficit.
Obama declared: “I didn’t come here to pass our problems on to the next president or the next generation – I’m here to solve them.” Rather than “solving” problems, he has created problems by promoting runaway spending, which is leading to record deficits. Obama soon increased the deficit to $1.4 Trillion in one year, but his debt involved spending instead of loaning money – a big difference. *
Obama has continued to blame America’s financial troubles on President Bush; but a Democrat-dominated Congress was in place for the two years leading up to Obama’s election.
In a severe economic recession, fiscal conservatives normally cut taxes and reduce spending. When Obama took office last year, he and the Democrats did exactly the opposite and went on a wild spending spree.
OBAMA CONTRASTED WITH PRESIDENT REAGAN
President Reagan walked into the White House in 1981 and inherited a terrible economy – the worst since the Great Depression. The inflation rate was 12%, and the interest rate was 21%. Very high taxes were discouraging job creation and investment. What did Reagan do?
Even though the House was controlled by the Democrats during the entire time President Reagan held office, he was such a skilled leader that he managed early in 1981 to convince Congress to implement across-the-board tax cuts and also to cut red tape. This strategy lowered the top income tax rates and encouraged people to take risks on new businesses, new systems, and new inventions.
When people’s incomes started rising, taxpayers were able to pay a bigger share of taxes; and that poured money into the government’s coffers.
It was President Reagan’s wise decision-making and expert leadership that caused our country to experience a 20-year period of creative entrepreneurship, and the U. S. economy tripled in size. **
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DEFICITS AND NATIONAL DEBT
Some people incorrectly use the terms “federal deficit” and “federal debt” interchangeably. They are not the same thing. Stated simply, the federal deficit or budget deficit is the amount that expenditures exceed income. The U.S. Treasury defines it this way: “The deficit is the fiscal year difference between what the United States Government (Government) takes in from taxes and other revenues, called receipts, and the amount of money the Government spends, called outlays.”
When federal deficits accumulate over a number of years, they produce a federal debt (or national debt). The U.S Treasury states: “You can think of the total debt as accumulated deficits plus accumulated off-budget surpluses.”
THE REAL NATIONAL DEBT
According to the U.S. Treasury / Treasury Direct website, the Total Public Debt Outstanding is $12.7 Trillion. The Total Public Debt is made up of two major components: Debt Held by the Public (at $8.2 Trillion) and Intragovernmental Holdings (at $4.5 Trillion).
Politicians typically prefer to talk about the Debt Held by the Public because it is a much smaller number than the Total Public Debt. You cannot arbitrarily exclude Intragovernmental Holdings from the total debt burden.
The Debt Held by the Public was $6.3 Trillion when Obama took office and is $8.2 Trillion today (approximately $2.0 Trillion increase). According to the CBO, it is headed toward $20.3 Trillion by 2020.
As bad as this is, it gets even worse. The long-term excess costs from entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare are $45.8 Trillion. Along with other commitments, the total obligations of the U.S. Government add up to a mind-boggling $63.3 Trillion! This translates to $200,000 for every American!
With people’s personal finances, they must pay interest on the total amount owed (e.g., home mortgages). The same thing applies to the federal government; it must pay interest on the total amount owed (the national debt).
Interest payments on the national debt can get quite expensive. Under current projections, the government will have to pay over $800 Billion per year in interest by 2019. If interest rates increase (as is quite likely), federal interest payments could rise to $1 Trillion by 2019!
It is this burgeoning national debt that threatens to destroy our country’s economic stability in the near future.
RAISING THE NATIONAL DEBT LIMIT
Congress apparently recognized the real national debt figure ($12.7 Trillion) because it voted to increase the national debt limit to $14.3 Trillion. In January (1.28.10), all 60 of the Senate Democrats agreed to raise the legal limit on government borrowing by $1.9 Trillion, increasing the national debt limit to an unbelievable $14.3 Trillion!
All Republicans voted against the increase. That $1.9 Trillion increase is large enough to allow the Democrats to spend freely in an election year without having to raise the limit on the federal credit card again.
NATIONAL DEBT AND THE GDP
Invariably many people compare the national debt to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our current GDP is $14.32 Trillion; our national debt of $12.67 Trillion is 88.4% of GDP.
By comparison, America’s debt-to-GDP ratio peaked at 109% at the end of World War II, while the ratio for economically troubled Greece hit 115% last year. When a country hits 100%, it is highly problematic.
The CBO and the Obama administration expect the deficit for fiscal year 2010, which ends September 30, to be approximately $1.5 Trillion. This would exceed 10% of GDP, making it the first time this has occurred since World War II.
Why would politicians, reporters, economists and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) compare the government’s debt to the GDP? This comparison to the Gross Domestic Product makes the debt look smaller and more manageable than it really is. The government doesn’t pay its debt with GDP; it pays it with taxes. [We will have more to say about repaying the debt later in this paper.]
[The next three sections are the most important because they touch upon a topic that is vital to the survival of the United States economy.]
“AMERICA’S BUBBLE ECONOMY”
In 2006 four authors*** wrote a book that correctly predicted the recession that we are now experiencing. In their book, America’s Bubble Economy, they saw the warning signs of the fall of the housing bubble that started in 2008. The authors’ well-documented predictions about our current recession were amazingly accurate and add to their credibility.
What is their definition of a bubble? “We define a bubble as an asset value that temporarily booms and eventually bursts, based on changing investor psychology rather than underlying, fundamental economic drivers that are sustainable over time.” They add this about bubbles: “As is always the case with bubbles, the facts on the ground did not justify the volume of the bubbles; therefore, sooner or later, we knew they would have to burst.”
Their research and insight revealed that America’s multi-bubble economy has been growing because of six co-linked bubbles. These six bubbles are as follows: the real-estate (housing) bubble, the stock-market bubble, the private-debt bubble, the discretionary-spending bubble, the dollar-bubble, and the government-debt bubble.
Bubbles can be very exhilarating and profitable when they are rapidly rising, but they are not much fun when they are falling. Each bubble is linked to the others; when one bubble sags or pops, it puts tremendous downward pressure on the rest. Like a soap bubble, once a bubble bursts, it is very difficult to re-inflate it.
Three of the four authors**** teamed together to write a new book, Aftershock. Published in November 2009, this book picks up where America’s Bubble Economy ends and “tells the rest of the story.” The authors have been able to see patterns in the U.S. and world economies that others are missing. Our economy has experienced the adverse effects of deflating the first four bubbles. They refer to this as Phase I: The “Bubblequake.”
We will briefly examine the housing bubble to illustrate how bubbles work. From 2000 to 2006, home prices grew by over 80%, while the inflation-adjusted wages and salaries went up only 2%. Because the rise in home prices greatly exceeded the rise in incomes, the authors concluded in 2005 that the housing bubble would be the first to fall. Their charts and graphs make it clear that a very big housing bubble was in the making. When the inevitable happened in 2008, most people seemed surprised.
It is important to realize that the problems we are now facing are due to much more than merely a popped real estate bubble. The other bubbles interact and aggravate the situation. “Rather than the housing bubble, private debt bubble, and stock market bubble magically re-inflating, they will instead continue to fall.”
Phase II is the “Aftershock.” In this phase, the dollar bubble and the government-debt bubble will burst. The real impact of the first four bubbles (real estate, stock market, private debt and discretionary spending) is the terrible downward pressure they are exerting on the two remaining bubbles (dollar bubble and government-debt bubble).
“AFTERSHOCK” AND OBAMA’S ACTIONS
What does Aftershock have to say about the Stimulus I package of early 2009?
On a monthly spending basis it comes to about the same stimulus as the spring 2008 stimulus package, which put roughly $40 billion a month into the economy over a 4-month period. That stimulus package had no noticeable effect on the economy. So even though the current stimulus package [“Stimulus I”] will last much longer than four months, at $40 billion a month it won’t have much more impact on the economy. Also some months we haven’t even spent $40 billion.
The authors continue:
Most importantly, just like the impact of the stimulus package of spring 2008 was overrun by the economic problems of late 2008, the stimulus package of early 2009 [“Stimulus I”] will be completely negated by further deterioration of the economy in 2010. By the middle of 2010, it will be like it never even happened.
They predict that the mantra for 2010 will be “This Is No Ordinary Recession.” People will realize that we are not simply in a “down economic cycle” that we can move out of soon. The feeling that this is no ordinary recession will have a chilling effect on investors and consumers who will become much more cautious. Because this recession is the product of a “multi-bubble pop,” there will be no automatic recovery.
What does the Aftershock book say about the growing government debt bubble? Our current national debt is $12.67 Trillion. In a good year, the government’s tax base is only $2.5 Trillion; in a bad year, it is much less. The current (2010) U.S. Federal Tax Revenue is $2.1 Trillion. The current national debt of $12.7 Trillion is six times the government’s current annual income (taxes).
If the federal government directed 100% of its taxes to paying off the national debt, it would take about seven years to pay it off, assuming today’s very low interest rates continue. Of course we know that interest rates are bound to increase. If interest rates rose to 10 or 15%, we would have a hard time just paying the interest.
The U.S government debt is the biggest “bad loan” of them all! There are only three ways of resolving the huge government debt: pay the money back, inflate our currency or default on our debt. The authors tell us:
Our track record of repayment is not too good, either. Except for some token payments in the best years of the last couple of decades, we have never made any payments to reduce the debt.
Because we cannot repay the money, only two options remain, both of which are rather ugly and painful. We will likely take the same approach every other country has used when confronted with this problem – inflate the problem away.
We need to correct a misnomer. Most people like to say “This debt will be our children’s problem or our grandchildren’s problem.” In reality, it is our problem and we will experience the harsh collapse in our lifetime [maybe in the very near future].
The ramifications of the U.S. dollar bubble are quite alarming. The Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) bailouts are also contributing mightily to the growth of the money supply. The current financial bailout bill has racked up $12.1 Trillion and the total is still growing!
We are starting to see some articles discussing the possible loss of the U.S government’s AAA bond rating. When we have a few failed Treasury auctions, confidence in the dollar will start to drop. The value of the dollar has already declined. “In fact, it’s down almost 60 percent from its peak value in 2000, relative to the euro.” The authors continue: “We currently receive about $2 billion of foreign capital every day.” Even if foreign capital drops to $1 Billion per day, the value of the dollar would fall.
As we finish the “Aftershock” discussion, we leave you with this scary picture. For 2010 and succeeding years, the authors see a movement toward what they call the “triple double-digit” economy: double-digit unemployment, double-digit inflation, and double-digit interest rates.
The dollar bubble will remain relatively hidden until the end; when it starts to blow up, it will look much like the financial crisis of October 2008. This financial collapse, however, will be much worse!
OBAMA’S STIMULUS I
In one of his first acts as President, Obama chose to push through Stimulus I. Those Recovery Act funds did not go to create real private-sector jobs that the country wanted and needed. Instead, the Stimulus I funds were spent on Obama’s “pet projects.”
Examples of misspent and wasteful Stimulus funds are rampant, and investigations have shown that the Obama administration estimated the number of jobs “created or saved” with Stimulus I funds rather than counting actual jobs.
Concerned citizens are also asking, “What is the Obama administration’s definition of a ‘job’”? “Who is tracking the number of hours worked?” Nobody seems to know.
HOW BAD WAS STIMULUS I?
Obama sold Stimulus I to Congress and to the American public by saying it would stimulate the economy and relieve the unemployment situation. Unemployment was not supposed to exceed 8%. In spite of Stimulus I, unemployment rose from 7.7% in January 2009 to 9.7% in January 2010 (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – BLS).
The national unemployment rate remained steady at 9.7% for February and March 2010. Employment in the federal government was up for March, reflecting the hiring of 48,000 temporary workers for the decennial census. We must remember that these census workers produce no income stream — no money coming into the government. Their salaries and benefits only stack up more federal deficits.
Also Stimulus I money was supposed to target “shovel-ready” construction jobs. Currently, the unemployment rate in construction (one of our largest industries) is at a 10-year high. (For some reason, this gets very little media coverage.)
According to the BLS, the national construction unemployment rate climbed to 27.1% in February then dropped to 24.9% in March. (The construction unemployment rate was 22.7% in December and 24.7% in January.) This means that one in four construction workers is out of work!
OBAMA’S 2011 BUDGET
Obama released his $3.8 Trillion budget for 2011 on 2.1.10. Has he learned a lesson from his out-of-control spending? [Absolutely not]
Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget will generate nearly $10 trillion in cumulative budget deficits over the next 10 years, $1.2 trillion more than the administration projected, the Congressional Budget Office reported on 3.25.10.
Having learned nothing from last year’s debacle, Obama’s new 2011 budget contains $282 Billion for Stimulus II and follows the same failed plan as that of Stimulus I.
TAX HIKES FOR FAMILIES
Obama’s new 2011 budget will extend the Bush tax cuts for 98% of all households. However, it will let the income tax cuts die on January 1, 2011 for taxpayers who make more than $250,000.
Obama’s budget calls for $1.4 Trillion in tax hikes over ten years with the top two levels of tax rates climbing from 33% to 36% and from 35% to 39.6%.
Two provisions in the 2011 budget will curb investments and growth of our economy. For married taxpayers earning over $250,000 or single taxpayers making over $200,000, taxes will increase. For these taxpayers, the tax rate on dividends and long-term capital gains will jump from 15% to 20%.
The Obama budget increases capital gains taxes even though history has clearly demonstrated that decreasing capital gains tax rates stimulates investment.
Under the Obama budget, all families will see their utility bills increase because of the $40 Billion increase in taxes for oil, natural gas, and coal companies. Those higher taxes will be passed on to consumers; and all families, middle-income included, will suffer.
Obama proclaimed vociferously during his campaign that he would not raise taxes on the middle class.
OBAMA’S BUDGET USES TAX DOLLARS TO PROMOTE ABORTION
ObamaCare is bad enough, but now he has put that same radical agenda into his proposed budget. It contains numerous pro-abortion provisions including public funding of abortions in the District of Columbia.
Gary Bauer stated that Obama’s budget “allows the Legal Services Corporation (financed by your tax dollars) to file lawsuits against pro-life legislation. It also provides more money for Planned Parenthood and reinstates funding for the United Nations Population Fund, which has supported China’s one-child policy.”
ObamaCare is a horrible piece of legislation, and the most horrific aspect is the cost. According to the CBO, the new entitlement spending in the plan would cost $216 Billion by 2019 and then increase by 8% every year thereafter. Over a full ten years of implementation, the cost of the new entitlement spending would reach at least $2.5 Trillion, not $1 Trillion as advertised by the White House.
The government’s track record with making accurate estimates for entitlement programs is abysmal! The actual final cost will likely be several times the current estimate.
On Friday 4.2.10, Obama said he did a full court press for a healthcare system remake because “this country was going to go bankrupt.” [This country is going to go bankrupt, and his actions are hastening the outcome.]
OBAMA’S SHAM DEFICIT-CUTTING COMMISSION
Since the Scott Brown election in Massachusetts, Obama has been making overtures to convince the American people that he is moderating his economic positions.
Obama has publicized his endorsement of a commission to lower deficits, but this commission would issue its recommendations after the November elections with a vote in Congress taken before the newly elected Congressmen could be seated.
No provisions are included that require public hearings, and back-room deals most certainly would dominate their recommendations.
Based upon the Obama administration’s past record, such a commission would recommend more tax increases and would severely cut Medicare benefits, thereby causing rationed care for our nation’s seniors.
The commission would be made up of 18 members – 6 Democrats, 6 Republicans, and 6 Obama appointees. Only 14 of the commission members would have to agree in order to issue recommendations.
No doubt Senators Reid and Pelosi would choose the Congressmen, and we already know the kind of appointees Obama would choose.
ELIMINATION OF MORTGAGE INTEREST DEDUCTIONS
Obama’s budget will eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction that taxpayers typically take on their income taxes. [This deduction and Social Security are the “third rails” of politics; touch them and you are dead.] Why would Obama take such a ridiculous measure when our economy is struggling to recover?
THE END OF DEDUCTIONS FOR CHARITABLE DONATIONS
One of the most devastating parts of Obama’s new budget is the reduction in the amount that taxpayers could deduct from their taxes for charitable donations. Many honest and well-run private charities are already suffering financially because of a decrease in contributions caused by a downturn in the economy. Obama’s new provision could wipe them out completely, thus leaving the federal government to decide who and what should receive charitable services.
Those charities that will suffer the most will be large institutions such as colleges, universities, and academic/research medical centers that are dependent upon charitable gifts made by those in the higher-income brackets. Much of the life-saving healthcare research has come from these very facilities.
OBAMA’S PLAN TO STEAL CHILDREN’S MINDS
Under Obama’s 2011 budget, the U. S. Department of Education will have its budget increased 7.6% to a grand total of $84.6 Billion. This funding is to implement Obama’s federal takeover of the public schools which is well on its way to completion.
Last year, 48 state Governors (except for Texas and Alaska) signed the Common Core standards adoption agreements before the public was told about the national tests.
U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan waited until the state contracts were signed before he made the rest of the plan clear:
·Up until early February, the 48 states who signed the agreements thought they only had to commit to teach 85% of the Common Core standards. During a two day meeting on February 1-2, they were told by a deputy executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers that states will not be allowed to pick and choose; they must use the entire national standards document word for word (i.e., 100%).
·National tests will be created based upon the Common Core national standards.
·To get the Race to the Top funds, states will have to be a part of the Common Core national standards.
·To get the Race to the Top funds, states will also have to implement an elaborate tracking system [provided by none other than Bill Gates I feel sure] that would link student test scores to individual teachers.
·This obviously means that teachers (whose merit pay will depend upon how their students do on the national tests) will teach their students a national curriculum to get them ready for the national tests.
· The vendors and lobbyists will be only too glad to develop the national curriculum. They will love dealing with The Beltway crowd rather than being required to pass their instructional materials through public hearings with conscientious citizens who check for factual errors.
·The reality is that all public school teachers will teach to the national test(s) created by the federal government because teachers’ salaries and employment security will depend upon it.
Plain and simple: This is Obama’s plan to change the way an entire generation of children thinks:
National standards → national tests → national curriculum → teachers’ salaries tied to students’ test scores → teachers teaching to the test each and every day → Obama indoctrination of our public school children
On 3.29.10, U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the two winners in the first round for Race to the Top funds: Delaware and Tennessee. Both of these states have committed to link a student’s test score back to the student’s individual teacher. This is called ”Value-Added Assessments.”
I have predicted for over a year that the states that will get the money will be those that commit to VAA. It looks as if I was right.
VAA is the key to forcing teachers to teach whatever it is that the federal government wants them to teach.
NUKE OBAMA’S 2011 BUDGET
Because Obama’s 2011 budget must be approved by Congress before it can be enacted, we need to put pressure on our Congressmen immediately. Obama’s 2011 budget must be nuked, stripped, chopped, dissected, cut, ripped, hacked, dismantled, annihilated, and gutted.
Remind them that the November elections are only seven months away and you have a good memory. Put pressure where it counts — on the November 2, 2010 elections. If we can get enough conservative Congressmen into office this fall, we can have a powerful impact on the next budget cycle (the 2012 budget).
HEALTHCARE BILL AND APPROPRIATIONS
ObamaCare is a healthcare bill that authorized and established a program; however, each year Congress has to vote on the appropriations (money) to be spent for each department and agency in the government. By law, appropriations must originate in the House.
If enough conservative Republicans can be elected to the House (and Senate) in Nov. 2010, they can decide not to fund ObamaCare. If no funds are appropriated for the tens of thousands of federal employees necessary to implement the ObamaCare program, the devastating effects of the bill can be stopped.
By keeping ObamaCare from being implemented, this will give the repeals and lawsuits enough time to wind their way through the court system, eventually leading to the complete undoing of ObamaCare.
We have our marching orders. We American voters have the power at the ballot box to stop Obama’s reckless budgets and healthcare bill.
*Information taken from “Behind Obama’s Phony Deficit Numbers,” written by Dick Morris, 2.2.10
**Information taken from “Defending the Reagan Deficits,” written by Brian M. Riedl, The Heritage Foundation, 6.16.04
***Information taken from “America’s Bubble Economy: Profit When It Pops,” written by David Wiedemer, Robert Wiedemer, Cindy Spitzer, and Eric Janszen, Oct. 2006
****Information taken from “Aftershock: Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Financial Meltdown,” written by David Wiedemer, Robert Wiedemer and Cindy Spitzer, Nov. 2009
** UPDATE 6/9/10 **
[Obama and the Democrats are putting together an expensive campaign to sell the public on the new healthcare bill. Whenever this PR campaign comes across your path, you might want to remember that under ObamaCare, all of us will be paying more for medical devices IF WE CAN STILL PURCHASE THEM AT ALL.
Medical device companies are now laying off workers, and the cuts are beginning to affect not just their production lines but their research and development of new products.
Senior citizens who rely upon hip/knee/joint replacements, spinal devices, diabetic advances, stents, x-ray/MRI/CAT scans, medical thermometers, blood sugar meters, artificial hearts, eye-surgery advancements, etc. will be the ones to pay more for these devices at a time in their lives when they have less ability to raise their incomes.
This $20 Billion in taxes for medical devices is yet another expensive blunder found in ObamaCare and is adding to the already burgeoning unemployment rate. — Donna Garner]
Texas Insider Report
Unemployment remains near record highs, and while the federal government’s census may be creating temporary jobs, the private sector remains reluctant to hire. Then, the Associated Press reports today on the job-killing impact of the new tax on medical devices included as part of the health care law.
The article points out (see below) that the $20 billion in tax increases will force device makers “to lay off workers and curb the research and development of new medical tools.”
While Speaker Pelosi may celebrate job losses because people can “be creative and be a musician or whatever,” many people would fail to see how impeding the ability of an industry that employs hundreds of thousands to create innovative and life-saving medical tools constitutes “reform.”
Medical device makers: New tax will cost jobs
Medical device makers warn excise tax in new health care law will cost jobs, stifle research
Steve Leblanc, Associated Press Writer
BOSTON (AP) — Medical device manufacturers are bristling over a key provision in the nation’s new health care law which they say forces them to shoulder an unfair cost of expanded insurance coverage.
A 2.3 percent excise tax on companies that supply medical devices like heart defibrillators and surgical tools to hospitals, health centers and ambulance services will cost medical device manufacturers an estimated $20 billion in new taxes over the next decade. And they say that will force them to lay off workers and curb the research and development of new medical tools.
“Many small to midsize medical device companies will owe more to the federal government in taxes than they make in profits,” said Mark Leahy of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association. “We’re talking about a 2.3 percent tax on total sales irrespective of whether a company is making a profit.”
It could have been worse: the initial proposed tax was $40 billion.
Brett Loper, a senior vice president for Advamed, the world’s largest medical device trade group, said the organization was looking for ways to bring the levy down even more before it takes effect. He also dismissed arguments that the higher tax would be offset by increased demand as tens of millions of more Americans are insured as a result of the health care overhaul.
“It’s hard to argue that there is going to be an enormous swell of those products,” he said. “Is there going to be a huge new demand for those products? I’m not sure.”
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who helped arrange meetings between medical device companies and Democrats leaders in Congress to convince them to cut in half the original proposed tax hike, maintained there would be a benefit for the companies.
“We’ve just expanded their marketplace by 32 million people who will now buy products from them,” he said. “This is going to work out just fine.”
The tax, which doesn’t kick in until 2013, has touched a nerve in Massachusetts, the state that provided the blueprint for the health care law. Massachusetts is also a hub for medical device companies, with more than 200 firms calling the state home. It has also pitted its senators against one another.
Kerry, a Democrat, said the 2.3 percent in no way strips the profits or the ability of any company to be able to do business.
“The medical device people were at the table. They agreed to this. They helped to write it and we need to just move forward,” he said.
He pointed out the tax doesn’t apply to eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, or other retail medical devices purchased by the public.
Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who won a special Senate election in part by vowing to block the national health care bill, made the medical device tax one of his first issues after taking office. Brown condemned the tax, calling it threat to a local industry.
“For a lot of them, that’s their profit that’s going to be eaten up by this tax,” Brown said, faulting President Barack Obama for failing to acknowledge problems in the health care bill. “The problems are the medical device companies are going to be whacked.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., agreed to slash the tax from $40 billion to $20 billion in part to win backing for the health care bill from Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, a state with a significant medical device industry.
California has the highest number of medical device workers with more than 72,400 followed by Massachusetts with nearly 22,000, Florida with nearly 20,000 and Minnesota with more than 18,000, according to industry estimates. Other states with significant medical device hubs include: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas and Ohio.
Richard Packer, CEO of Chelmsford, Mass.-based Zoll Medical Corp., which employs 650 workers in Massachusetts, said the tax will put his company, which produces defibrillators, “at a break-even position” and dismissed the idea that companies should be grateful the tax wasn’t higher.
“When the negotiations started it was going to be $40 billion and our industry negotiated it down to $20 billion,” he said.
“We would be losing money instead of just breaking even, that’s not my definition of a fair negotiation.”
** UPDATE 5/30/10 **
From May 25, 2010 –
[Here we go. Now we see the “fixes” being added to the price of ObamaCare. Obama and the Democrats deliberately left out various pieces of the original coverage so that the CBO would score the healthcare bill below $1 Trillion to get the bill passed. However, on May 12, 2010, the country learned:
Obama’s new health-care law could potentially add at least $115 billion more to government health care spending over the next 10 years, if Congress approves all the additional spending called for in the legislation, congressional budget referees said Tuesday…The Congressional Budget Office said the added spending includes $10 billion to $20 billion in administrative costs to federal agencies carrying out the law, as well as $34 billion for community health centers and $39 billion for Native American health care (Newsmax).
Today we learn that $990 Million more will need to be added if the military families under TRICARE are to receive full benefits for their children until age 26.
If we voters are smart, we will vote on Nov. 2, 2010 for only those Congressmen who pledge to repeal ObamaCare and to start over again with a new healthcare bill — this time addressing the right way to lower healthcare costs instead of trying merely to redistribute wealth. — Donna Garner]
By David Hilzenrath
Wednesday, May 26, 2010; A15
By the time Congress passed the national health-care overhaul, anxiety about it was so widespread that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates issued a statement reassuring military families. The legislation, Gates said, “will not negatively impact the TRICARE medical insurance program” for members of the armed forces.
Indeed, partly to avoid such criticism, the legislation left Tricare untouched.
Now, some military families have a different concern: They are discovering that a popular and highly publicized benefit of the new law does not apply to them.
Under the law, other Americans are gaining the option of keeping their children on their health insurance plans – or putting dependents back on their policies – until they turn 26. But for the most part, Americans covered by Tricare have no such luck.
Teresa Roberts of Alexandria, a retired naval intelligence officer, said she was excited when she heard about the young adult coverage — and disappointed when she learned it doesn’t apply to her daughter, who graduated from college May 8.
“It seems discriminatory to those of us who have military benefits for which we are paying,” Roberts said.
Troubled that troops are on the short end of a double standard, lawmakers are tackling the issue. The defense authorization bill pending in the House, which recently was approved by the Armed Services Committee, would give military families essentially the same option as their civilian counterparts. A parallel proposal has been introduced in the Senate.
But making the benefit available to military families could take awhile, said Steve Strobridge, director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America. Defense authorization bills typically are approved late in the year, and assuming the dependent coverage is adopted, the Pentagon will need additional time to implement it, Strobridge said.
In the meantime, the Obama administration has been publicizing the fact that in the private sector, dozens of health insurance companies are voluntarily implementing the expanded coverage for dependents months ahead of schedule.
Instead of waiting for plan years that begin after Sept. 23 — the date specified in the legislation (or six months from the law’s enactment; for many plans that will mean Jan. 1, 2011) – companies are allowing new college graduates and other young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans this summer.
Tricare provides relatively generous benefits for 9.6 million Americans, but expanded coverage for dependents is one area in which the new health-care law provides more extensive coverage. The proposed Tricare expansion would cover young adults who are not eligible for insurance through an employer.
Under current law, the age limit for dependent children under Tricare is 21, or 23 if the child is enrolled full-time in an institution of higher learning. For an additional fee, the young adults can obtain extended coverage for up to 36 months, but only if they enroll in the continuation program within 60 days of losing Tricare eligibility.
The expansion measure, which was proposed by Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and endorsed by the House Armed Services Committee, calls for the defense secretary to set a premium for extended coverage. The premium could be as much as the projected cost of the medical benefit.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the expanded Tricare coverage would cost $924 million in federal outlays over five years, beginning with $8 million in 2011 and rising to $326 million in 2015. The CBO estimates that the coverage would entail $990 million of spending authorization over the period.
In estimating the cost, the CBO assumed that the Defense Department would subsidize about 75 percent of the cost instead of recouping the full amount through premiums.
** UPDATE 5/15/10 **
What we as voters must continue to remember is how bad the healthcare bill really is. We simply cannot allow this horrible bill to take over our healthcare in this country, and we can keep this from happening by dumping the Democrats and RINO’s in November 2010 and electing committed conservative Congressmen who are dedicated to voting against any appropriations to implement the healthcare bill. — Donna Garner
RPC Healthcare Facts: 159 Ways the Senate Bill Is a Government Takeover of Health Care
Here is a list of new boards, bureaucracies, and programs created in the 2,733 page Senate health care bill, which serves as the framework for President Obama’s health proposal:
1. Grant program for consumer assistance offices (Section 1002, p. 37)
2. Grant program for states to monitor premium increases (Section 1003, p. 42)
3. Committee to review administrative simplification standards (Section 1104, p. 71)
4. Demonstration program for state wellness programs (Section 1201, p. 93)
5. Grant program to establish state Exchanges (Section 1311(a), p. 130)
6. State American Health Benefit Exchanges (Section 1311(b), p. 131)
7. Exchange grants to establish consumer navigator programs (Section 1311(i), p. 150)
8. Grant program for state cooperatives (Section 1322, p. 169)
9. Advisory board for state cooperatives (Section 1322(b)(3), p. 173)
10. Private purchasing council for state cooperatives (Section 1322(d), p. 177)
11. State basic health plan programs (Section 1331, p. 201)
12. State-based reinsurance program (Section 1341, p. 226)
13. Program of risk corridors for individual and small group markets (Section 1342, p. 233)
14. Program to determine eligibility for Exchange participation (Section 1411, p. 267)
15. Program for advance determination of tax credit eligibility (Section 1412, p. 288)
16. Grant program to implement health IT enrollment standards (Section 1561, p. 370)
17. Federal Coordinated Health Care Office for dual eligible beneficiaries (Section 2602, p. 512)
18. Medicaid quality measurement program (Section 2701, p. 518)
19. Medicaid health home program for people with chronic conditions, and grants for planning same (Section 2703, p. 524)
20. Medicaid demonstration project to evaluate bundled payments (Section 2704, p. 532)
21. Medicaid demonstration project for global payment system (Section 2705, p. 536)
22. Medicaid demonstration project for accountable care organizations (Section 2706, p. 538)
23. Medicaid demonstration project for emergency psychiatric care (Section 2707, p. 540)
24. Grant program for delivery of services to individuals with postpartum depression (Section 2952(b), p. 591)
25. State allotments for grants to promote personal responsibility education programs (Section 2953, p. 596)
26. Medicare value-based purchasing program (Section 3001(a), p. 613)
27. Medicare value-based purchasing demonstration program for critical access hospitals (Section 3001(b), p. 637)
28. Medicare value-based purchasing program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 3006(a), p. 666)
29. Medicare value-based purchasing program for home health agencies (Section 3006(b), p. 668)
30. Interagency Working Group on Health Care Quality (Section 3012, p. 688)
31. Grant program to develop health care quality measures (Section 3013, p. 693)
32. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Section 3021, p. 712)
33. Medicare shared savings program (Section 3022, p. 728)
34. Medicare pilot program on payment bundling (Section 3023, p. 739)
35. Independence at home medical practice demonstration program (Section 3024, p. 752)
36. Program for use of patient safety organizations to reduce hospital readmission rates (Section 3025(b), p. 775)
37. Community-based care transitions program (Section 3026, p. 776)
38. Demonstration project for payment of complex diagnostic laboratory tests (Section 3113, p. 800)
39. Medicare hospice concurrent care demonstration project (Section 3140, p. 850)
40. Independent Payment Advisory Board (Section 3403, p. 982)
41. Consumer Advisory Council for Independent Payment Advisory Board (Section 3403, p. 1027)
42. Grant program for technical assistance to providers implementing health quality practices (Section 3501, p. 1043)
43. Grant program to establish interdisciplinary health teams (Section 3502, p. 1048)
44. Grant program to implement medication therapy management (Section 3503, p. 1055)
45. Grant program to support emergency care pilot programs (Section 3504, p. 1061)
46. Grant program to promote universal access to trauma services (Section 3505(b), p. 1081)
47. Grant program to develop and promote shared decision-making aids (Section 3506, p. 1088)
48. Grant program to support implementation of shared decision-making (Section 3506, p. 1091)
49. Grant program to integrate quality improvement in clinical education (Section 3508, p. 1095)
50. Health and Human Services Coordinating Committee on Women’s Health (Section 3509(a), p. 1098)
51. Centers for Disease Control Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(b), p. 1102)
52. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(e), p. 1105)
53. Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(f), p. 1106)
54. Food and Drug Administration Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(g), p. 1109)
55. National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council (Section 4001, p. 1114)
56. Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health (Section 4001(f), p. 1117)
57. Prevention and Public Health Fund (Section 4002, p. 1121)
58. Community Preventive Services Task Force (Section 4003(b), p. 1126)
59. Grant program to support school-based health centers (Section 4101, p. 1135)
60. Grant program to promote research-based dental caries disease management (Section 4102, p. 1147)
61. Grant program for States to prevent chronic disease in Medicaid beneficiaries (Section 4108, p. 1174)
62. Community transformation grants (Section 4201, p. 1182)
63. Grant program to provide public health interventions (Section 4202, p. 1188)
64. Demonstration program of grants to improve child immunization rates (Section 4204(b), p. 1200)
65. Pilot program for risk-factor assessments provided through community health centers (Section 4206, p. 1215)
66. Grant program to increase epidemiology and laboratory capacity (Section 4304, p. 1233)
67. Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (Section 4305, p. 1238)
68. National Health Care Workforce Commission (Section 5101, p. 1256)
69. Grant program to plan health care workforce development activities (Section 5102(c), p. 1275)
70. Grant program to implement health care workforce development activities (Section 5102(d), p. 1279)
71. Pediatric specialty loan repayment program (Section 5203, p. 1295)
72. Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program (Section 5204, p. 1300)
73. Allied Health Loan Forgiveness Program (Section 5205, p. 1305)
74. Grant program to provide mid-career training for health professionals (Section 5206, p. 1307)
75. Grant program to fund nurse-managed health clinics (Section 5208, p. 1310)
76. Grant program to support primary care training programs (Section 5301, p. 1315)
77. Grant program to fund training for direct care workers (Section 5302, p. 1322)
78. Grant program to develop dental training programs (Section 5303, p. 1325)
79. Demonstration program to increase access to dental health care in underserved communities (Section 5304, p. 1331)
80. Grant program to promote geriatric education centers (Section 5305, p. 1334)
81. Grant program to promote health professionals entering geriatrics (Section 5305, p. 1339)
82. Grant program to promote training in mental and behavioral health (Section 5306, p. 1344)
83. Grant program to promote nurse retention programs (Section 5309, p. 1354)
84. Student loan forgiveness for nursing school faculty (Section 5311(b), p. 1360)
85. Grant program to promote positive health behaviors and outcomes (Section 5313, p. 1364)
86. Public Health Sciences Track for medical students (Section 5315, p. 1372)
87. Primary Care Extension Program to educate providers (Section 5405, p. 1404)
88. Grant program for demonstration projects to address health workforce shortage needs (Section 5507, p. 1442)
89. Grant program for demonstration projects to develop training programs for home health aides (Section 5507, p. 1447)
90. Grant program to establish new primary care residency programs (Section 5508(a), p. 1458)
91. Program of payments to teaching health centers that sponsor medical residency training (Section 5508(c), p. 1462)
92. Graduate nurse education demonstration program (Section 5509, p. 1472)
93. Grant program to establish demonstration projects for community-based mental health settings (Section 5604, p. 1486)
94. Commission on Key National Indicators (Section 5605, p. 1489)
95. Quality assurance and performance improvement program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 6102, p. 1554)
96. Special focus facility program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 6103(a)(3), p. 1561)
97. Special focus facility program for nursing facilities (Section 6103(b)(3), p. 1568)
98. National independent monitor pilot program for skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities (Section 6112, p. 1589)
99. Demonstration projects for nursing facilities involved in the culture change movement (Section 6114, p. 1597)
100. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (Section 6301, p. 1619)
101. Standing methodology committee for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (Section 6301, p. 1629)
102. Board of Governors for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (Section 6301, p. 1638)
103. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund (Section 6301(e), p. 1656)
104. Elder Justice Coordinating Council (Section 6703, p. 1773)
105. Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation (Section 6703, p. 1776)
106. Grant program to create elder abuse forensic centers (Section 6703, p. 1783)
107. Grant program to promote continuing education for long-term care staffers (Section 6703, p. 1787)
108. Grant program to improve management practices and training (Section 6703, p. 1788)
109. Grant program to subsidize costs of electronic health records (Section 6703, p. 1791)
110. Grant program to promote adult protective services (Section 6703, p. 1796)
111. Grant program to conduct elder abuse detection and prevention (Section 6703, p. 1798)
112. Grant program to support long-term care ombudsmen (Section 6703, p. 1800)
113. National Training Institute for long-term care surveyors (Section 6703, p. 1806)
114. Grant program to fund State surveys of long-term care residences (Section 6703, p. 1809)
115. CLASS Independence Fund (Section 8002, p. 1926)
116. CLASS Independence Fund Board of Trustees (Section 8002, p. 1927)
117. CLASS Independence Advisory Council (Section 8002, p. 1931)
118. Personal Care Attendants Workforce Advisory Panel (Section 8002(c), p. 1938)
119. Multi-state health plans offered by Office of Personnel Management (Section 10104(p), p. 2086)
120. Advisory board for multi-state health plans (Section 10104(p), p. 2094)
121. Pregnancy Assistance Fund (Section 10212, p. 2164)
122. Value-based purchasing program for ambulatory surgical centers (Section 10301, p. 2176)
123. Demonstration project for payment adjustments to home health services (Section 10315, p. 2200)
124. Pilot program for care of individuals in environmental emergency declaration areas (Section 10323, p. 2223)
125. Grant program to screen at-risk individuals for environmental health conditions (Section 10323(b), p. 2231)
126. Pilot programs to implement value-based purchasing (Section 10326, p. 2242)
127. Grant program to support community-based collaborative care networks (Section 10333, p. 2265)
128. Centers for Disease Control Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
129. Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
130. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
131. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
132. Food and Drug Administration Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
133. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
134. Grant program to promote small business wellness programs (Section 10408, p. 2285)
135. Cures Acceleration Network (Section 10409, p. 2289)
136. Cures Acceleration Network Review Board (Section 10409, p. 2291)
137. Grant program for Cures Acceleration Network (Section 10409, p. 2297)
138. Grant program to promote centers of excellence for depression (Section 10410, p. 2304)
139. Advisory committee for young women’s breast health awareness education campaign (Section 10413, p. 2322)
140. Grant program to provide assistance to provide information to young women with breast cancer (Section 10413, p. 2326)
141. Interagency Access to Health Care in Alaska Task Force (Section 10501, p. 2329)
142. Grant program to train nurse practitioners as primary care providers (Section 10501(e), p. 2332)
143. Grant program for community-based diabetes prevention (Section 10501(g), p. 2337)
144. Grant program for providers who treat a high percentage of medically underserved populations (Section 10501(k), p. 2343)
145. Grant program to recruit students to practice in underserved communities (Section 10501(l), p. 2344)
146. Community Health Center Fund (Section 10503, p. 2355)
147. Demonstration project to provide access to health care for the uninsured at reduced fees (Section 10504, p. 2357)
148. Demonstration program to explore alternatives to tort litigation (Section 10607, p. 2369)
149. Indian Health demonstration program for chronic shortages of health professionals (S. 1790, Section 112, p. 24)*
150. Office of Indian Men’s Health (S. 1790, Section 136, p. 71)*
151. Indian Country modular component facilities demonstration program (S. 1790, Section 146, p. 108)*
152. Indian mobile health stations demonstration program (S. 1790, Section 147, p. 111)*
153. Office of Direct Service Tribes (S. 1790, Section 172, p. 151)*
154. Indian Health Service mental health technician training program (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 173)*
155. Indian Health Service program for treatment of child sexual abuse victims (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 192)*
156. Indian Health Service program for treatment of domestic violence and sexual abuse (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 194)*
157. Indian youth telemental health demonstration project (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 204)*
158. Indian youth life skills demonstration project (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 220)*
159. Indian Health Service Director of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment (S. 1790, Section 199B, p. 258)*
*Section 10221, page 2173 of H.R. 3590 deems that S. 1790 shall be deemed as passed with certain amendments.
** UPDATE 4/22/10 **
“Don’t Stand up and Cheer Yet”
by Donna Garner
Before you stand up and cheer for Sen. Feinstein’s bill that is meant to set federal caps on insurance rates, let’s look at the issue a little more carefully (New York Times article posted at the bottom of my comments).
Fact: The Democrat-passed healthcare bill does nothing to control healthcare costs. In truth, it was never meant to do so. The intent of the healthcare bill was to implement eventually a single-payer system by way of little babysteps — “incrementalism.” The end result is to put the federal government in charge of everyone’s healthcare so that everyone can easily be controlled by the federal government.
To get to the single-payer system, the idea is to drive insurance companies out of business. Those companies, to survive the onslaught of new insureds including those with expensive pre-existing conditions, are presently being forced to raise their premiums in order to get ready for the future federal mandates.
Insurance companies are trying to build up a backlog of finances to carry them through the 2014 flood of newly insured people. Because many of these people will pay nothing out of their own pockets for healthcare but will rely upon taxpayers to pay it for them, the tendency will be for these uninvested people to run to the doctor even when they have a sniffle. This will put a tremendous strain on insurance companies and upon the entire healthcare system.
Now Sen. Feinstein is trying to put the nail in the coffin by passing a bill that will cap those insurance premiums in hopes that insurance companies will go belly up.
In other words, Feinstein and the other Democrats are trying to tighten the screws at either end until the insurance companies are pressured out of business which is exactly what the Democrats want to happen.
The Democrat-passed healthcare bill must be repealed, piece by piece; and the appropriations for each part of it must be voted down. No appropriations…no healthcare bill.
This is why the November 2010 election is so very important. Before we vote for any candidates in that election, we must find out if they genuinely have the courage and fortitude to vote against the implementation of the healthcare bill.
April 20, 2010
Senate Bill Sets a Plan to Regulate Premiums
By ROBERT PEAR
WASHINGTON — Fearing that health insurance premiums may shoot up in the next few years, Senate Democrats laid a foundation on Tuesday for federal regulation of rates, four weeks after President Obama signed a law intended to rein in soaring health costs.
After a hearing on the issue, the chairman of the Senate health committee, Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, said he intended to move this year on legislation that would “provide an important check on unjustified premiums.”
Mr. Harkin praised a bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, that would give the secretary of health and human services the power to review premiums and block “any rate increase found to be unreasonable.” Under the bill, the federal government could regulate rates in states where state officials did not have “sufficient authority and capability” to do so.
The White House offered a similar proposal in the weeks leading up to approval of the health care legislation last month. But it was omitted from the final measure, in part for procedural reasons.
Reviving the proposal on Tuesday, Mr. Harkin said: “Rate review authority is needed to protect consumers from insurance companies’ jacking up premiums simply because they can. Protections must be in place to ensure that companies do not take advantage of current market conditions before health reform fundamentally changes the way they do business in 2014.”
“Currently,” Mr. Harkin said, “about 22 states in the individual market and 27 states in the small group market do not require a review of premiums before they go into effect — and perhaps even more. This is a gaping hole in our regulatory system, and it is unacceptable.”
Under the new health care law, starting in 2014, most Americans will be required to have insurance. Insurers will have to offer coverage to all applicants and cannot charge higher premiums because of a person’s medical condition or history.
Michael T. McRaith, director of the Illinois Department of Insurance, told Congress on Tuesday, “There is a distinct possibility that less responsible companies will raise rates to price out people who are sick or might become sick between now and 2014.”
Mr. McRaith said he and the governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, a Democrat, “unequivocally support state-based insurance regulation,” because local officials understand local markets.
He endorsed Mrs. Feinstein’s bill, saying it would “provide an impetus” for states to regulate premiums if they did not already do so.
Karen M. Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group for insurers, said Congress should let the new law work before piling on additional requirements.
Congress, she said, has largely ignored the cause of rising premiums: the explosive growth of medical costs and the power of hospitals and other health care providers to dictate prices.
Ms. Ignagni said the law imposed new requirements, taxes and fees on health plans, which could further drive up costs.
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, said: “Health insurance companies’ profits for one year equal about two days of health care spending in the United States. So even if we were to take away all the profits of the so-called greedy insurance companies, that would still leave 363 days a year when health care costs are expanding at a rate our country cannot afford.”
Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, a research center that advocates free-market health policies, said the Democrats’ proposal was unlikely to succeed in lowering insurance costs.
“Capping premiums without recognizing the forces that are driving up costs would be like tightening the lid on a pressure cooker while the heat is being turned up,” Mrs. Turner said.
Mrs. Feinstein said her bill would close what she described as “an enormous loophole” in the new law. And she said health insurance should be regulated like a public utility.
“Water and power are essential for life,” Mrs. Feinstein said. “So they are heavily regulated, and rate increases must be approved. Health insurance is also vital for life. It too should be strictly regulated so that people can afford this basic need.”
Mr. Harkin interrupted the hearing to note that one of the nation’s largest insurers, UnitedHealth Group, had just reported that its first-quarter earnings had increased 21 percent, to $1.19 billion, surpassing Wall Street expectations.
Some securities analysts say they doubt that insurers can sustain such gains after major provisions of the new law take effect.
** Update 4/4/10 **
“The What and the When of the Healthcare Bill”
If you want to know when the provisions in the newly passed healthcare bill will be implemented and what those provisions will be, these are the two reports* you need to read. They are easy to understand and are grouped by subject and by date of implementation.
Here are the two links:
These should spur all voters to go to the ballot box in each and every election to make sure we elect Congressmen who will vote against appropriations for these provisions. If no federal money is appropriated, these provisions cannot be implemented by the numerous federal agencies involved. This is our most immediate solution followed by the legal appeals that will take time to work through the court system.
*House Ways and Means Republicans, March 25, 2010
“The Horror of This Healthcare Bill”
by Donna Garner
Hearing a sound bite here and there does not communicate how really bad this Obama/Senate healthcare bill is. I have put all in one document the basic provisions found in the Obama/Senate healthcare bill. It takes looking at the entire scope of this horrendous bill to realize how negatively this bill would impact all Americans.
This is a rather long report; but because I have inserted subheadings, readers can scan through the document, looking at those sections that hold particular interest for them. Please send this report to your Congressmen to let them know that you know how truly egregious this bill really is. Tell your Congressmen that the only alternative is to dump this bill because of its all-encompassing regulations.
OBAMA’S PROPOSAL RELEASED ON 2.22.10
Obama released his 11-page outline of his healthcare proposal on 2.22.10. Because I wrote a report on 12.29.09 that tracked the explicit provisions in the Senate/Reid healthcare bill, I have gone through that report and have added Obama’s proposal changes (highlighted in red with two asterisks**).
OBAMA’S CONCESSIONS RELEASED 3.2.10
This week Obama issued four concessions to give the appearance of bipartisanship on this bill. I have indicated Obama’s four concessions with three red asterisks (***).
SENATOR REID’S HEALTHCARE BILL
H. R. 3590 (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) is 2,074 pages long [plus the 383 pages of revisions disclosed by Sen. Reid right before the final vote on 12.24.09]. This totals 2,457 pages that make up the Sen. Reid healthcare bill that was passed on Christmas Eve morning.
**Obama’s healthcare proposal would increase the cost from $871 Billion to $950 Billion over 10 years, but the real costs would depend upon the years it takes to implement the bill and the revenues and benefits that ensue.
This is what CBO Director Douglass Elmendorf stated about Obama’s proposal:
Although the proposal reflects many elements that were included in the health care bills passed by the House and the Senate last year, it modifies many of those elements and also includes new ones. Preparing a cost estimate requires very detailed specifications of numerous provisions, and the materials that were released this morning do not provide sufficient detail on all of the provisions.
· Every American for the first time would have to obtain insurance or else face a financial penalty (or even jail time as indicated in the bill).
· Starting in 2014, people who do not have access to affordable coverage through an employer (families up to incomes of about $88,000 a year) could be eligible for federal subsidies provided through state-based exchanges, heavily regulated by the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management.
· The approximate average subsidy in 2019 under the House plan would be $6,800 a year; it would be $5,600 under the Senate bill.
· The Senate bill would require raising taxes on middle-class Americans and cutting senior citizens’ health benefits by nearly $5 trillion.
· All but the smallest employers would face fines of as much as $750 per worker if even one employee sought federal help to buy a policy; additional federal subsidies could be given to small businesses.
· After 2014, there would be a total ban on a lifetime cap for coverage and a ban on pre-existing conditions.
· The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that families who buy coverage on their own would see their premiums increase by up to $2,100 a year.
· Over 10 million Americans would lose their employer-based coverage altogether.
· The “individual responsibility” provision in Section 1501 requires anyone who fails to obtain a qualifying health plan to pay an annual tax penalty of $750 per adult family member and $375 per child, up to a maximum penalty of $2,250 per family.
NEW TAXES TO BE PAID BY EVERYONE
Obama and the Democrats in Congress keep talking about the cost of the healthcare bill, but they seem less than concerned about the money this bill would actually take out of our pockets because of more than a dozen new taxes created by the bill. These would add up quickly for families:
· A 40 percent excise tax on “high value” health care plans of $8,500 or more for an individual and $23,000 or more for a couple ($149.1 billion in new taxes over the next 10 years);
· A 0.5 percent hike in the Medicare payroll tax for single earners over $200,000 and joint earners over $250,000 ($53.8 billion);
· Changes in health savings accounts (HSAs), Archer Medical Spending Accounts, health flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and health reimbursement arrangements ($5 billion);
· A $2,500 cap on FSAs in cafeteria plans ($14.6 billion);
· An increase from 10 percent to 20 percent in the penalty for early non-qualified HSA withdrawals ($1.3 billion);
· A tax on branded drugs ($22.2 billion);
· An annual tax on the health insurers ($60.4 billion);
· A tax on companies that manufacture or import medical devices ($19.3 billion);
· A 0.5 percent excise tax on cosmetic surgery ($5.8 billion over 10 years);
· An increase in the floor of the medical expenses deduction from 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income to 10 percent, except for seniors, who will stay at 7.5 percent ($15.2 billion);
· Elimination of the Medicare Part D (prescription drug) deduction ($5.4 billion);
· A $500,000 cap on the tax deduction for the salaries of employees of health insurance companies ($0.6 billion over 10 years); and
· A mandate on companies with more than 50 employees to provide health coverage or pay a $750 penalty per employee for those who obtain coverage through the insurance exchange ($36 billion over 10 years) and a mandate on individuals to obtain coverage or pay a tax penalty.
The Heritage Foundation, 12.18.09
**Obama’s proposal would provide $40 Billion worth of tax credits to small businesses.
***Obama wants to allow people who buy insurance through insurance exchanges to be able to participate in health savings accounts; this could give more coverage for young people who do not receive comprehensive insurance through their employers.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN – ARTICLE IN DALLAS MORNING NEWS
Sen. John Cornyn stated in a recent article in the Dallas Morning News that the costs of individual coverage would be from 54% to 61% higher with the Senate bill than without it.
Many workers currently choose only catastrophic care policies and if they are young single men, they do not purchase policies with pregnancy benefits. Under the Reid bill, young singles would be forced to pay more than $1,000 a year to buy policies dubbed by the federal government as “adequate.”
One provision in Reid’s bill sets up a perverse incentive for healthy people to wait to buy coverage until they get sick. When New York and New Jersey tried this plan, their premiums went sky-high; and many health insurers left the market altogether.
Not only would the cost of policies rise, but higher taxes would increase the cost of private insurance ($150 Billion); and the healthcare industry would have to absorb more than $100 Billion in new taxes and fees. [Redistribution of wealth] Unfortunately, all of these costs would be passed on to the consumers.
CONFIRMATION OF HIGHER PREMIUM COSTS
To make sure we are getting the correct picture, I have utilized two different sources that discuss the costs of premiums: (1) Health and Human Services Department, (2) Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, an Associated Press reporter.
(1) On 12.11.09, the government economic analysts at the Health and Human Services Department released their report: The nation’s $2.5 trillion annual healthcare tab will not shrink under the Democratic blueprint. Instead, HHSD said the tab would grow somewhat more rapidly than if Congress does nothing…
We have heard many reports from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), but it was not until recently that I learned the CBO typically estimates only the impact of particular bills on the federal deficit. As important as that is, the report from Health and Human Services instead looked at how the healthcare bill would directly affect us personally over the next 10 years.
The HHS actuaries’ report projected that national healthcare spending would go up by an additional 0.7 percent under the healthcare bill (2010-2019) mainly because newly insured people would be able to receive medical care they otherwise would not have gotten.
The HHS report says the Democrats’ plan is too abrupt, too strident in trying to hold down the growth of payments to hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies and other service providers. Such over-reaching would reduce access for Seniors, thus rationing their healthcare.
Providers who handle large numbers of Medicare patients would have a hard time staying in business and might stop handling Medicare patients altogether.
Reid’s bill would cause 1 in 5 hospitals, home care agencies, and nursing homes to operate in the red. Many would no doubt go out of business.
(2) An AP article by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar on 12.23.09 warns that the costs of healthcare reform under ObamaCare would be felt long before the benefits. The taxes and fees on upper-income earners, insurers, and tanning salons would take effect immediately as would the Medicare cuts; but the subsidies for 30 million uninsured would not come until 2013 – 2014. [This would be similar to making car payments for four years before actually getting to drive the car.]
For people who buy their own insurance policies (about 1 in 6), premiums would go up; and the uninsured would go through federally controlled exchanges.
For the first time, Americans would be required to carry health insurance, either through (1) an employer, (2) Medicare or Medicaid, or (3) by buying it themselves. Refusal to purchase insurance would bring fines, except in cases of financial hardship. [The term “financial hardship” is broad and is open to much interpretation. During a financial downturn, half the country could fall under this definition.]
Most employers would be required to offer coverage or pay a tax, under the House bill. With the Senate version, employers would be billed if any of their workers got subsidized coverage in the exchange…
A family of four making $66,000 a year would still have to spend about 10 percent of its income on premiums – less than a mortgage but more than a car payment. And that’s without counting copayments and deductibles. [Redistribution of wealth]
SEN. TOM COBURN, M. D.
On 12.26.09 Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) shared from his personal experiences as a long-time physician (DallasBlog.com):
Our health care system needs to be reformed not because government’s role has been too small but because it has been too big…60% of our healthcare economy…In my 25 years of practicing medicine I’ve treated countless patients who would have had their lives cut short had the Reid bill been in effect. I don’t need to conjure up scare tactics or rely on talking points written by staff. I’ve seen cancers that would have gone undiagnosed, treatments that would have been denied, and care that would have been delayed had this bill been in effect.
Sen. Tom Coburn, M. D. also spoke on the floor of the Senate (11.20.09):
There is no provision prohibiting the rationing of healthcare, and you will definitely see rationing of healthcare with this bill. We are already seeing it now in Medicare more every day. CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) is not supposed to be rationing healthcare, but they are rationing about 17 things. CMS, the government, has made a decision on how best to practice medicine. Under Sen. Reid’s bill, rationing will become more and more prevalent.
Sen. Reid’s bill creates 70 new government programs. [Speaker Pelosi’s healthcare bill sets up 111 new healthcare government agencies. Trying to work through all these federal agencies would be a nightmare for patients and for healthcare workers.]
Sen. Reid’s bill says 1,697 times that the Secretary of Health and Human Services is to create, determine, and define critical things and write the regulations. This bill creates 1,697 new sets of regulations in healthcare.
The Senate bill is 2,074 pages long [plus the 383 pages of revisions disclosed by Sen. Reid right before the final vote on 12.24.09]. 2.5 million people who have health insurance today will lose their health insurance. They are going to get moved into some government program. [Redistribution of wealth]
If Sen. Reid’s bill is fully implemented, the CBO says there are still going to be 24 million people left without health insurance. [Who is going to pay for their emergency room visits?]
$10 Billion will be needed every year for the IRS just to follow the regulations for the tax collection in this bill. That is not even considered in the CBO score. The actual cost of this bill is $2.5 Trillion. We already have $12 Trillion worth of national debt today.
***Obama wants to spend $50 Million for pilot programs to experiment with specialized health courts rather than jury trials.
However, Gary Bauer said on 3.3.10,
But why should Republicans embrace a trillion-dollar entitlement program for a pilot project that the administration will likely kill in its first year? Everyone knows why serious tort reform is going nowhere – trial lawyers are a leading source of campaign cash for Democrats, who raked in more than $178 million in the last election from lawyers and law firms.
ANOTHER DOCTOR SPEAKS OUT
As stated by Jane M. Orient, M. D., managing editor of The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons:
One of the most common words in the House healthcare reform bill is “eligible.” Obviously if you have to be eligible, you can also be ineligible — and probably are, until proved otherwise.
If subsidies can be given, they can be denied, or taken away.
If the price-fixers can raise the doctor’s pay, they can also cut it.
If a committee can mandate coverage and level of payment for a service, it can refuse coverage or set the allowable charge below cost.
If it has to certify need, it can declare that there is no need.
FEDERAL HEALTH INSURANCE RATE AUTHORITY
**Obama revealed that he wants the federal government to be given even more power; he wants the federal government to regulate and/or block insurance company rate increases.
The new agency created for this purpose would be called the Federal Health Insurance Rate Authority. If such an agency were created, this would be the first time the federal government would have the power to place price controls on private health insurance companies. “Private” health insurance would be “private” in name only.
Such a new government agency is not needed because the states already have the power to regulate any insurance-rate increases that companies propose.
For instance, the state of California has the authority to decide whether Anthem Blue Cross should be allowed to raise its rates; and I understand that California is deliberating about its decision right now. Who needs HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in far-off, lobbyist-heavy, agenda-driven Washington, D. C. to be given the power to make California’s decision? The reason California’s Anthem Blue Cross wants to increase its rates is that the unemployment rate in California is so high that people are dropping their healthcare coverage, thus shrinking the pool of payers to cover those who have serious and expensive illnesses.
The Stupak amendment, that passed 240 to 194 in the House healthcare bill (11.6.09), permanently prohibits federal subsidies from paying any part of the premium of a plan that covers elective abortions.
However, Sen. Reid included all sorts of “abortion gimmicks” in his bill. The Senate bill:
- prohibits federal funds from paying for abortions but then does not require enrollees to be told about this provision.
- denies the renewal of the Hyde Amendment, thus basically destroying the firewall.
- insists that there be at least one plan that does not cover abortions but then encourages the under-advertisement of that plan and pressures women to choose the pro-abortion plan.
- allows the Mikulski amendment that labels abortions as “preventive care” to go unchallenged, allowing pro-life provisions in other parts of the healthcare bill to be considered unlawful.
- allows taxpayer-funded abortions on Indian reservations.
- disallows conscience protections for healthcare workers.
On 12.28.09, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper that Obama favors the pro-abortion Senate bill.
Because Sen. Reid’s healthcare bill does not require verification of citizenship (e.g., photo I. D.), an illegal immigrant could easily obtain a Social Security number and then access the public option, Medicaid, the Health Insurance Exchange, and/or Affordability Credits. [It has been widely reported that scammers frequently sell Social Security numbers to illegal immigrants.]
To make matters worse, a provision in the healthcare bill imposes fines on hospitals and doctors who do not “substantially provide language services to limited English proficient beneficiaries.” This means doctors and hospitals will have to provide translators who speak such languages as Korean, Swahili, Arabic, Bosnian, Spanish, Urdu, Persian, Mon-Khmer, Vietnamese, Navajo, Russian, Hindi, Hmong, Chinese, German, Thai, etc.
Law-abiding taxpayers will be paying higher taxes to provide translators to those who do not know English, many of whom are in this country illegally. That’s not all. Even though Reid’s healthcare bill will fine, penalize, or even put us citizens in jail if we do not purchase health insurance that the government deems as “acceptable,” illegal immigrants are to be exempted from this provision.
[Redistribution of wealth]
MEDICARE — COSTS COUNTED TWICE
Sen. Reid has proudly publicized that his healthcare bill will cut Medicare by $500 Billion. [To make a comparison, Medicare presently reports $100 Billion of fraud annually.]
When Sen. Jeff Sesssions (R-AL) saw the proposed cuts to Medicare, he questioned CBO Director Doug Elmendorf and found out that the amount had been counted twice! Without this “accounting gimmick,” $300 Billion would actually be added to the deficit. Elmendorf stated:
The key point is that the savings to the (Hospital Insurance) trust fund under the (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) would be received by the government only once, so they cannot be set aside to pay for future Medicare spending and, at the same time, pay for current spending on other parts of the legislation or on other programs.
[Translation: Our family cannot set aside money to pay for our future utility bills while taking that same money and using it to pay our automobile payments.]
MEDICARE — HOME HEALTH CARE AGENCIES TARGETED
Another Medicare problem with Sen. Reid’s healthcare bill was raised by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) who explained that home healthcare agencies were being unfairly targeted in the legislation, noting that they account for 3.7% of the Medicare budget but would absorb 9.4% of the cuts to Medicare in the Senate bill. (The percentage is even higher in the House version of the legislation which passed last month.) Johanns’ amendment tried to eliminate $42 billion in cuts over 10 years to agencies that provide home healthcare to seniors; but, unfortunately, his amendment was voted down by the Democrats.
OTHER PROBLEMS WITH MEDICARE PROVISIONS
Another Medicare provision impacts people making over $200,000 a year. A proposed 0.5% increase in the Medicare payroll tax was bumped up to 0.9%, putting the tax at 2.35% on income over $200,000 a year for individuals, or $250,000 for couples.
Shielded from the full impact of a proposed new tax on high-value insurance plans (so-called “Cadillac” plans) were electrical linemen, longshoremen, policemen, firefighters, emergency first-responders, workers in construction, mining, forestry, fishing and certain agricultural jobs — mostly union members. [The unions have been big campaign contributors to Obama and the Democrats.]
Washington Post reporter, Amy Goldstein, today dug out yet another provision buried deep in the thousands of pages in the healthcare bill. “The Democrats and President Barack Obama have been clear that the ‘doughnut hole,’ as the gap is known, would disappear gradually over the next 10 years. They have not mentioned that Medicare patients would, according to House figures, face a slightly larger hole in coverage during two of the next three years than they do today.”
The “doughnut hole” describes the problem many elderly patients face who take a myriad of expensive drugs and must pay for them on their own.
**In Obama’s proposal, he has added a centralized database where government officials can document Medicare and Medicaid abuses. Also added is a requirement to perform background checks for those who provide health care services under Medicare. Jail time would be given to those who purchase, sell, or distribute Medicare-beneficiary information numbers.
** Obama’s proposal would close the Medicare drug “donut hole” for seniors by increasing their amount of money provided for rebates and by reducing the co-insurance payments by 2020.
** In 2018, Obama’s proposal would cut down on the tax on high-cost health insurance plans (e.g., those enjoyed by labor union members). Because of the reduction, instead of the government’s raking in $150 billion over 10 years, the tax would bring in just $30 billion.
***Obama has proposed sending investigators disguised as patients to uncover fraud and waste in Medicare and Medicaid.
To plug that gap in revenue, Obama would raise Medicare payroll taxes on upper-income earners; and for the first time, those Medicare taxes would be assessed not just on a person’s wages but on his investment income.
MEDICARE — DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB SPEAKS OUT
In the 12.23.09 issue of the Wall Street Journal, Scott Gottlieb, M. D., former senior official at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), queried: “Mr. Obama promised that under his plan people wouldn’t have to change their doctors. But it’s clear that doctors will be forced to change how they make their medical decisions.”
Dr. Gottlieb went on to explain that ObamaCare would give only one government entity the power to control our entire healthcare — the CMS.
(1) Primary care physicians would be financially penalized for recommending that patients go to specialists.
(2) Medicare would prescribe exactly what surgeries, medications, treatments, and medical devices could be utilized based not on patients’ needs but totally on how much they cost.
(3) ObamaCare would not allow patients to sue CMS by going through patient appeals, but the bill would deliberately allow private insurers to be sued.
(4) CMS would discourage innovation in medical devices; the end result would be the “dumbing down” of medical equipment and technology that has made the American healthcare system the best in the world.
MEDICARE VS. SPECIALISTS
The Texas Medical Association on 11.17.09 produced charts showing the tremendous negative impact the Medicare cuts would have on specialists, thus bringing about inferior, rationed care, and eventually “Death Panels” for seniors. In most cases, the cumulative effect of the cuts on specialists is far more than 21%.
The clear intent of the reductions in reimbursements is to force doctors into being hospital employees, where they can be more easily controlled by the federal government; the costs of hospital tests is higher than if the tests were done in doctors’ offices. For instance, a hospital is reimbursed $500 more for an electrocardiogram than is an independent specialist who does the ECG in his office.
In a hospital, all of the payments, appointments, and length of appointments would be controlled by the federal government. A doctor’s wife told me recently, “I know of many instances where doctors employed by hospitals have been fired because they spent too much time with their patients or did not order up enough tests to jack up hospital revenue.”
The Senate also passed the Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act (CLASS Act) despite concerns that the program would become a drain on the federal budget less than 20 years after enactment. The program would attract people in poor health, leading to higher and higher premiums that eventually would trigger an “insurance death spiral.” Even the CBO said that the payouts would quickly outrun premiums, and the program would probably require infusions of cash in its second decade. Sen. John Thune (R – S. D.) tried to stop CLASS from passing but did not have the 60 votes needed to stop its passage.
The Associated Press reported on 12.29.09 that even though the long-term care insurance program run by the government is voluntary the “workers at participating companies would be automatically enrolled — critics say ‘tricked into’ enrolling — unless they opted out. People would see a deduction for the program from their paychecks — estimates range from $160 to $240 a month — unless they signed a form or clicked a box saying they wanted to keep the money.”
HOW THE UNSCRUPULOUS SEN. REID INSERTED HIS “FIX”
Sen. Reid slipped into his bill a provision that would prohibit future Congresses from changing any of the regulations imposed upon doctors and patients by the Independent Medicare Advisory Boards (i.e., “Death Panels). When Sen. Jim DeMint (R-So. Carolina) saw the provision and quoted Rule 11, paragraph 2 of the standing rules of the Senate (“the necessary affirmative vote shall be two-thirds of the senators present and voting”) and then pointed out section 343, p. 1000 in the bill (Reid’s no changes by future Congresses), the Senate President in collaboraton with the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that this “rule” change was actually just “procedure” change and only needed 51 votes to pass. The “fix” was in.
Here is a partial transcript of Sen. DeMint’s comments on the floor of the Senate:
SEN. DEMINT: And so the language you see in this bill that specifically refers to a change in a rule is not a rule change, it’s a procedure change?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER: That is correct.
DEMINT: Then I guess our rules mean nothing, do they, if they can redefine them. Thank you, and I do yield back.
(12.21.09 — Redstate.com)
Sen. Reid’s bill says that people with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level ($14,404 for an individual in 2009, $22,000 for a family of four) could enroll in Medicaid. The House bill makes the cutoff 150% of the poverty level ($16,245 for an individual in 2009). States would have to raise their eligibility provisions for Medicaid under the Senate healthcare bill. Therefore, states would have to come up with these increases probably through higher taxes:
Arkansas — $402 Million
California — $1,428 Million
Florida — $909 Million
Indiana — $586 Million
Louisiana — $432 Million
Michigan — $570 Million
Missouri — $836 Million
North Carolina — $599 Million
Pennsylvania — $1,490 Million
Texas — $2,749 Million
Virginia — $601 Million
Washington — $311 Million
Tennessee — $750 Million
*These estimates were obtained by calculating the increase in Medicaid spending in each state to bring it up to the 133 percent level specified in the Senate bill. Then I applied the percentage of Medicaid spending in each state on acute care (mainly for the poor) as opposed to long-term care (mainly for the elderly). Finally, I took 10 percent of the increased state share of spending and listed it in the table above (Dick Morris).
Because many doctors do not take patients covered by Medicaid and Sen. Reid’s bill expands the numbers eligible for Medicaid, who is going to serve them, particularly in the areas where there are doctor shortages? [Redistribution of wealth]
***Obama wants to increase payments to Medicaid providers. The amount of increase was not announced.
On 12.4.09, the Senate voted 57 to 41 to cut Medicare Advantage funding by more than $170 billion. Five years ago, Medicare Advantage was set up as a voluntary plan that has successfully helped 10 million seniors to pay for the care that Medicare does not cover. As a payoff to AARP for their support of Obama and liberal Congressmen, Sen. Reid’s bill would kill Medicare Advantage, thus forcing seniors to buy AARP Medi-Gap insurance policies containing less coverage at higher costs. [Redistribution of wealth]
The Constitution of the United States says:
Article One, Section Eight:
…all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To get Senators to support his bill, Sen. Reid offered them “sweet deals” to buy votes using taxpayers’ dollars:
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) – the $300 Million “Second Louisiana Purchase” in order to bring her on board for the vote — can now use this giveaway to buy votes in her home district when she runs for re-election.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) – The “Cornhusker Kickback” — special permission to allow the physician-owned Bellevue Medical Center in Bellevue, Nebraska, to get referrals from doctors even though other hospitals around the rest of the country are forbidden to do so under Reid’s healthcare bill; exemption from annual insurance fee for Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Nebraska and Mutual of Omaha; 100% federal reimbursement for new Medicaid coverage – $100 Million.
**Obama’s proposal would take away “The Cornhusker Kickback” but adds fees so that similar help can be given to states across the board. The other “sweet deals” are to be left in place.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) – $100 Million for the University of Connecticut Medical Center; higher reimbursements for certain hospitals under Medicare
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) – Grandfather clause that exempts Florida residents from losing Medicare Advantage benefits – Cost: $3 Billion to $5 Billion
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) – exemption from insurance fee for Michigan/Blue Cross-Blue Shield; higher reimbursements for certain hospitals under Medicare
Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming – higher Medicare payments to “frontier” doctors
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) – $10 billion more for community health centers; and $600 Million in extra Medicaid dollars
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) – Medicare coverage for individuals exposed to environmental asbestos hazards around Libby, a superfund site.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) – $100 Million extra Medicaid dollars
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) – $500 Million in extra Medicaid dollars
REACTION TO “SWEET DEALS” FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
On 12.23.09, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R-TX) announced in the Austin American-Statesman that he is in communication with 10 other attorneys general (Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Washington) and high-ranking Republicans in Georgia, New York, and Tennessee in an effort to fight the “Cornhusker Kickback.”
Abbott stated, “From a fundamental fairness perspective this [“Cornhusker Kickback”] is both wrong and outrageous. Usually when that is the case you can either find law that will support your position or a court who will agree with you.”
In a recent alert, Liberty Counsel announced that it “is prepared to challenge the constitutionality of the bill since Congress has no authority to require every person to obtain insurance coverage and has no authority to fine employers who do not provide the coverage standards that are required in the bill.”
Amendment 10 in the Constitution states clearly, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Sen. DeMint put the following into the Congressional Record on 12.22.09:
Forcing every American to purchase a product is absolutely inconsistent with our Constitution and the freedoms our Founding Fathers hoped to protect…This is not at all like car insurance, you can choose not to drive but Americans will have no choice whether to buy government-approved insurance. This is nothing more than a bailout and takeover of insurance companies. We’re forcing Americans to buy insurance under penalty of law and then Washington bureaucrats will then dictate what these companies can sell to Americans. This is not liberty, it is tyranny of good intentions by elites in Washington who think they can plan our lives better than we can.
The Democrats’ healthcare reform bill requires Americans to buy health insurance ‘whether or not they ever visit a doctor, get a prescription or have an operation.’ If an American chooses not to buy health insurance coverage, they will face rapidly increasing taxes that will rise to $750 or 2% of their taxable income, whichever is greater.
An individual mandate to enter into a contract with or buy a particular product from a private party, with tax penalties to enforce it, is unprecedented– not just in scope but in kind–and unconstitutional as a matter of first principles and under any reasonable reading of judicial precedents.
WHY WE AMERICANS ARE SO OPPOSED TO THIS BILL
Summary of Obama/Reid healthcare bill by Michael Connelly:
It places control of our personal health care decisions in the hands of unnamed Federal Bureaucrats who care nothing about us or our individual needs. It provides instant access for these same bureaucrats to see our medical and financial information, it massively increases our taxes and ultimately our insurance premiums, and it reduces our access to the health care that we need. It takes away our choices and our personal freedoms and it increases the Federal deficit that will eventually land on the backs of our children and grandchildren.
(Michael Connelly is a U.S. Army veteran, a retired attorney, a published author, freelance writer, and teaches law courses online worldwide.)