Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Americans finding out the true costs of Obamacare

The Daily Caller has a sobering article about the true costs of Obamacare.

Excerpt:

Millions of Americans are receiving double-digit premium hikes. For many people under 30, their health insurance premiums are going up much more — by as much as 189 percent. What happened to candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 promise that every family’s health care costs would go down by $2,500 by the end of his first term? (Costs actually went up by $3,000.)

The Congressional Budget Office projects Obamacare will cost tens of billions more over the next decade than the agency projected just three years ago. Those increases were not budgeted for, and will add to massive deficits.

So much for the promise that the law “will not add one dime to the deficit.”

Millions of workers at places like Wendy’s and Olive Garden are now being preemptively reclassified as part-time, and an estimated 7 million to 20 million employees face the loss of workplace health benefits altogether.

So much for the oft-heard promise that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”

[...]Seniors were assured that the new system wouldn’t affect their benefits, despite Obamacare’s $716 billion in ten-year cuts to Medicare (to help pay for the new entitlement).

That promise was broken recently, when the Medicare agency issued surprise regulations cutting Medicare even more deeply than Congress had directed — cuts that target a popular and very successful part of Medicare, one that actually features consumer choice and competition, namely, Medicare Advantage (MA).

Seniors who opt into MA enjoy greater care coordination, disease management for chronic conditions, and on-call nurses available by phone. Those extra services — which in some cases mean the difference between life and death — are now slated for the chopping-block.

Rosemarie Battaglia will be among the millions of victims of these new regulations, which beginning April 1 will effectively shave MA plan payments by about 2 percentage points. On top of prior cuts enacted in Obamacare, that spells an 8 percent cut next year — a level higher than the profit margins for these plans.

Actuarial experts at the American Action Forum predict the cuts will cause between 2 and 5 million seniors to lose their MA benefits, and that MA recipients face health care cost increases averaging $2,235 a year.

When a President makes promises about economic policy, we shouldn’t believe him unless we have reasons to believe that he understands business and economics. We had no reason to believe that Obama understood economics. And, when given the reins of the economy, he’s proven that. Instead of electing people who sound nice in speeches, we should be electing people who have shown that they know how to solve the problems we’re facing in the economy. A track record of success at creating jobs, reducing the costs of health care, improving health care quality and choice, etc. should have counted for more than rhetoric. We chose the rhetoric and now we’re getting the screws.

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Can we fix poverty by redistributing money, or is the problem something else?

This little blurb by a doctor is making the rounds on Facebook:

Dear Mr. President:

During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive Shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone.

While glancing over her Patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as “Medicaid”! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer.

And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman’s health care?

I contend that our nation’s “health care crisis” is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a “crisis of culture”, a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance.

It is a culture based on the irresponsible credo that “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me”. Once you fix this “culture crisis” that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you’ll be amazed at how quickly our nation’s health care difficulties will disappear.

Respectfully,
STARNER JONES, MD

My first reaction to this thing was HOAX, but Snopes says it’s not a hoax. In fact, it was a letter published in a newspaper.

And there was even a follow-up letter by the same doctor:

I continue to receive numerous phone calls, letters, emails and face-to-face comments about my letter (“Why Pay For the Care of the Careless”) which appeared in your newspaper a few months ago.

Most people express highest approval for the opinion set forth. Indeed, the truth has an illuminating quality all its own.

However, a few have disagreed and all of them falsely assume that a person who holds the views which I espouse must have been raised in a privileged home. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I grew up in a lower middle class, single parent home in the rural hill country of Pontotoc, Mississippi. While attending public schools, I paid attention in class and did my homework. I ran with the right crowd and stayed out of trouble. My dedication in school resulted in a full-paid scholarship to the prestigious University of the South in Sewanee, TN. After college, I left to go to medical school with everything I owned in three bags. The rest is history.

Motivation, not entitlement, is the key to personal success and happiness in life.

The fact of the matter is that it is often people who have come out of poverty themselves who most disagree with those who want to keep people in poverty by subsidizing their poor decision making. I come from a background where my parents were immigrants and my father worked 3 jobs and my mother worked one. We saw people around us who were poor like us, making these irresponsible spending decisions and they were encouraged to persist in it by welfare programs like Medicaid. They were getting tens of thousands of dollars in benefits, and they would lose those benefits if they worked their way out of poverty.

The fact of the matter is that we are doing the able-bodied non-working poor no favors by allowing them to persist in the worldview of poverty, which is encourages dependence, recklessness, consumption and waste. Eventually, the state runs out of other people’s money to subsidize the able-bodied non-working poor in their perpetual childhood, and then where will they be? We are already $16.5 trillion in debt, and this level of welfare spending is not sustainable. Eventually, they will have to fend for themselves. We will be leaving them uneducated, with no resume, and a host of addictions ranging from the lottery and cigarettes up to drugs and alcohol.

Instead of fretting over feelings, and worrying about being judgmental, we should be fretting about enacting policies that promote marriage, school choice, entrepreneurship, work and so on. Strengthening the family and rewarding hard work. If the concern is that health care costs too much, there are ways to lower the cost of health care with market-oriented reforms. We should be studying the economics of health care and promoting consumer choice, ownership and competition among health care providers. Government is not the answer.

I really recommend that everyone read a book by British doctor Theodore Dalrymple, who gives a close-up view of what government programs actually do to the people we would all like to help. I have linked to all the chapters here, so there is no excuse not to read it and get informed. Then we can read other books on consumer-driven health care in order to learn about how to reduce the cost of health care without growing government.

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Paul Ryan explains why Republicans are doing what they promised to do

Rep. Paul Ryan - GOP Ideas Man

Rep. Paul Ryan - GOP Ideas Man

Here’s the video from The Blog Prof.

Paul Ryan is going to do it because he said he would do it.

If you would like to understand what consumer-driven health care is, read this post from the Heritage Foundation.

Excerpt:

If policymakers are serious about real patient-centered, consumer-driven health care reform, they should ensure that their legislative proposals embody six key principles:

  • Individuals are the key decision makers in the health care system. This would be a major departure from conventional third-party pay­ment arrangements that dominate today’s health care financing in both the public and the private sectors. In a normal market based on personal choice and free-market competition, consumers drive the system.
  • Individuals buy and own their own health insurance coverage. In a normal market, when individuals exchange money for a good or service, they acquire a property right in that good or ser­vice, but in today’s system, individuals and families rarely have property rights in their health insur­ance coverage. The policy is owned and controlled by a third party, either their employers or govern­ment officials. In a reformed system, individuals would own their health insurance, just as they own virtually every other type of insurance in virtually every other sector of the economy.
  • Individuals choose their own health insur­ance coverage. Individuals, not employers or government officials, would choose the health care coverage and level of coverage that they think best. In a normal market, the primacy of consumer choice is the rule, not the exception.
  • Individuals have a wide range of coverage choices. Suppliers of medical goods and ser­vices, including health plans, could freely enter and exit the health care market.
  • Prices are transparent. As in a normal market, individuals as consumers would actually know the prices of the health insurance plan or the medical goods and services that they are buying. This would help them to compare the value that they receive for their money.
  • Individuals have the periodic opportunity to change health coverage. In a consumer-driven health insurance market, individuals would have the ability to pick a new health plan on predict­able terms. They would not be locked into past decisions and deprived of the opportunity to make future choices.

And if you’re looking for a nice short podcast on consumer-driven health care, go right here.

If you want a book on this, you can get Regina Hertzlinger’s book (interview here), although I read it, and I found it filled with too many case studies and stories and not enough policy analysis.

UPDATE:

More Paul Ryan: (H/T Hyscience)

And some Michele Bachmann: (H/T Gateway Pundit)

And the House votes to repeal Obamacare, with 3 Democrats joining the Republicans, and no Republicans joining the Democrats.

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Obama flip-flops on health care mandates – now it IS a tax

Here’s the deal. In order to get the health care bill to pass, Obama had to trick people into thinking that it was not going to result in higher taxes.

So, you would see him on ABC News before the bill was passed saying that forcing people to buy things they don’t want is not a tax:

OBAMA: No. That’s not true, George. The — for us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.

OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I’m taking over every sector of the economy. You know that. Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?

OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion.

So forcing people to buy health insurance and fining them if they don’t is NOT A TAX, he says.

And so the bill was passed.

But the thing is, the government can’t legally force people to buy health care coverage – it’s unconstitutional! And people are suing them for having passed an unconstitutional law. So now the Obama regime has to argue in court that it really is a tax in order to escape court challenges that they overstepped their bounds by passing a health care mandate.

The American Spectator explains. (H/T Hot Air)

Excerpt:

In order to protect the new national health care law from legal challenges, the Obama administration has been forced to argue that the individual mandate represents a tax — even though Obama himself argued the exact opposite while campaigning to pass the legislation.

Late last night, the Obama Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the Florida-based lawsuit against the health care law, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction and that the State of Florida and fellow plaintiffs haven’t presented a claim for which the court can grant relief. To bolster its case, the DOJ cited the Anti-Injunction Act, which restricts courts from interfering with the government’s ability to collect taxes.

The Act, according to a DOJ memo supporting the motion to dismiss, says that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person, whether or not such person is the person against whom such tax was assessed.” The memo goes on to say that it makes no difference whether the disputed payment it is called a “tax” or “penalty,” because either way, it’s “assessed and collected in the same manner” by the Internal Revenue Service.

It actually is a tax, and just another one of the many ways that Obama broke his campaign promise not to tax the middle class. How else is he going to pay for the trillion-dollar deficits he is creating? He has to raise taxes – or devalue our savings with inflation. There is no third way. The money has to come from somewhere – and if you tax the rich you just end up losing jobs.

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CBO estimates Obamacare cost to be 2 trillion from 2014-2023

From the Weekly Standard. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

The CBO says that Obamacare would cost $2.0 trillion in the bill’s real first decade (from 2014 to 2023) — and much more in the decades to come.

But $2.0 trillion wouldn’t be the total ten-year costs. Instead, that would merely be the “gross cost of coverage provisions.” Based on earlier incarnations of the proposed overhaul, the total costs would be about a third higher (the exact number can’t be gleaned from the CBO’s analysis, which is only preliminary and is not a full scoring) — making the total price-tag between $2.5 and $3 trillion over the bill’s real first decade.

How would we pay for all of this? According to the CBO, by diverting $1.1 trillion away from already barely-solvent Medicare and spending it on Obamacare, and by increasing taxes on the American people by over $1 trillion. Among the Medicare cuts would be cuts of $25,000 in Medicare Advantage benefits per enrollee — up from $21,000 in the previous scoring.

[...]We’d also pay for this through increased deficits.  Under strict instructions from the Democrats, the CBO gave Obamacare credit for over $400 billion (from 2014 to 2023) in phony “savings” that would allegedly result from cutting doctor’s payments under Medicare by over 20 percent and never raising them back up.  As the CBO notes, one of two things could happen:  Congress could either follow through on these severe pay cuts — in which case doctors would view all Medicare patients as if they have the plague — or, Congress could eliminate these pay cuts — as everyone in Washington expects to have happen under the so-called “doc fix” — in which case the CBO projects that this bill would raise deficits by over $100 billion from 2017 to 2019 alone.

So, after racking up higher deficit spending in two years than President Bush (or any other president) did in two terms, President Obama would leave his successor a 12-figure deficit related to Obamacare alone — for the period from 2017 to 2019 alone.  That’s according to the CBO.

Someone is going to have to pay for all of this spending. Either taxes are going to go up so that we are all out of a job, or the government will print money and devalue the currency via inflation. I hope the young people who voted for Obama like the taste of grass – because that’s all they’ll be eating for the rest of their lives if this spending keeps up.

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