Posts Tagged ‘Obamacare’
November 20th, 2015 at 9:55 am
In Other News, ObamaCare Is Now a Slow-Motion Disaster
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As ObamaCare enters the real world and departs Barack Obama’s “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” fantasy world, it is already proving a slow-motion disaster for Americans.  This week, The Wall Street Journal featured a front-page article entitled “Rising Rates Pose Challenge for Health Law,” and the news is grim:

Insurers have raised premiums steeply for the most popular plans at the same time they have boosted out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, copays and coinsurance in many of their offerings.  The companies attribute the moves in part to the high cost of some customers they are gaining under the law, which doesn’t allow them to bar clients with existing health conditions.  The result is that many people can’t avoid paying more for insurance in 2016 simply by shopping around – and those who try risk landing in a plan with fewer doctors and skimpier coverage.”

The report proceeds to describe the magnitude with greater specificity, and it is astonishing:

Premiums for individual plans offered by the dominant local insurers are rising almost everywhere for 2016, typically by double-digit percentage increases, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of plan data in 34 states where the site sells insurance.  More than half of the midrange ’silver’ plans are boosting the out-of-pocket costs enrollees must pay, while more than 80% of the less-expensive ‘bronze’ plans are doing so.”

Meanwhile, a new Gallup survey released this week shows that the percentage of Americans rating their healthcare quality as excellent or good has plummeted from 62% in 2010 when ObamaCare was enacted to 53% now.  The survey also reveals that the percentage who are satisfied with healthcare costs has actually declined from 26% in 2009 to 21% today.

As experience with ObamaCare increases with implementation, the situation promises to get worse by the day.  Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi passed, now we’re staring at the reality of what was in it.

November 10th, 2015 at 8:59 am
Ramirez Cartoon: ObamaCare Costs
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

July 31st, 2015 at 10:01 am
Sticker Shock: Healthcare Spending Spikes As ObamaCare Takes Effect
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

For some time now, Barack Obama and his apologists have trumpeted slowing healthcare costs as somehow attributable to ObamaCare.  Never mind that the declines predated Obama’s election, and that even The Washington Post gave him three Pinocchios in its Fact Checker analysis of this claim on November 5 of last year:

Healthcare inflation has gone down every single year since the law [ObamaCare] passed, so that we now have the lowest increase in healthcare costs in 50 years – which is saving us about $180 billion in reduced overall costs to the federal government and in the Medicare program.”

To illustrate how he played the role of rooster taking credit for the sunrise, healthcare cost inflation reached 7% in 2003, but plummeted to approximately 2% before Obama even took office.

Regardless, but healthcare costs are spiking again as ObamaCare actually takes effect:

Growth in national health spending, which had dropped to historic lows in recent years, has snapped back and is set to continue at a faster pace over the next decade, federal actuaries said Tuesday…  The jump comes after five consecutive years of average spending growth of less than 4% annually – a rate touted by the Obama Administration as the lowest since the government began tracking health spending in the 1960s and a sign that the health law’s Medicare provisions were helping rein in health costs.”


Chalk up yet another failure of ObamaCare, which helps explain why it remains so unpopular among Americans as we “find out what’s in it” in the words of Nancy Pelosi.

July 7th, 2015 at 10:21 am
New Gallup Poll on Confidence in Big Business Coincides with ObamaCare Merger Wave
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

A revealing commentary this week in The Wall Street Journal on reduced competition and insurance industry consolidation under ObamaCare coincides in an interesting manner with a new Gallup poll showing very low public confidence in big business.

In “How the Affordable Care Act Is Reducing Competition,” physician and American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident fellow Scott Gottlieb lays out how ObamaCare by design requires industry consolidation to accommodate its massive regulatory burdens and higher operating costs:

To sustain themselves, insurers must spread fixed costs over a larger base of members.  The bigger they are, the easier it is to meet the government-imposed cap on their operating costs while cutting their way to profitability.  This pressure discourages new health plans from launching.  Startups often must channel more money into initial operating expenses.  But the caps largely prevent this, so the market stagnates…  ObamaCare’s architects saw these trends coming – and welcomed them.  They mistakenly believed that consolidation would be good for patients, on the theory that larger companies would have more capital to invest in innovations that are thought to improve coordination of medical care, such as electronic health records, integrated teams of medical providers and telemedicine.

This was a profound miscalculation.  The truth is that the greatest innovations in healthcare delivery haven’t come from federally contrived oligopolies or enormous hospital chains.  Novel concepts – whether practice-management companies, home healthcare or the first for-profit HMO – almost always have come from entrepreneurial firms, often backed by venture capital.  That venture capital has been drying up since ObamaCare was passed.”

Meanwhile, a new Gallup survey reveals that is precisely the sort of big-business favoritism that Americans distrust:

Americans are more than three times as likely to express confidence in small business as they are in big business.  Sixty-seven percent of U.S. adults report having a ‘great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in small business, far eclipsing the 21% who are similarly confident in big business.  Confidence in small business is up slightly from last year’s 62%, while confidence in big business is unchanged.”

This helps explain why, despite Barack Obama’s ongoing protestations and false assurances, the healthcare law bearing his name remains widely unpopular with Americans it affects.  Each week brings a fresh wave of bad news about ObamaCare, such as this week’s news of skyrocketing costs unanticipated only by those who supported the law.  Its unpopularity, along with the unpopularity of big government and big business more generally, provide optimism that Americans remain open to conservative and libertarian efforts toward replacement and reform.

June 22nd, 2015 at 7:56 am
Video: The Wisdom of Justice Obama
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses how President Obama’s rhetoric regarding ObamaCare and the challenge currently before the Supreme Court to the law’s subsidies is both unseemly and not presidential.

May 22nd, 2015 at 12:23 pm
Clock Ticking Down on SCOTUS’ Decision On ObamaCare Subsidies
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Ashton Ellis, CFIF Contributing Editor, discusses what Congress should do if the Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare subsidies for health insurance purchased on exchanges set up by the federal government, why some Americans had to pay back the IRS for ObamaCare subsidies, and the negative implications of ObamaCare across the nation.

Listen to the interview here.

May 20th, 2015 at 3:11 pm
More Insurance, Less Health Care?

A new report says that the number of Americans who are ‘underinsured’ is 31 million people – double the figure from 2003.

Being underinsured means that a person has access to health insurance, but doesn’t use it to get healthy because the cost is too high.

ObamaCare – with the popularity of its high deductible insurance plans – may make the problem worse.

“The steady growth in the proliferation and size of deductibles threatens to increase underinsurance in the years ahead,” says the Commonwealth Fund report.

“People who have high deductibles do tend to skimp on healthcare,” Sara Collins, the study’s lead author, said to reporters.

That’s because a trip to the doctor’s office can generate thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses before the insurance company contributes a penny.

The Obama administration has claimed a lot of credit for lowering the uninsured population, but has been unsurprisingly mum about the uptick in the number of underinsured Americans. If this trend continues, millions of people will be forced to pay for a financial product they cannot afford to use, but dare not risk going without since the IRS has the power to penalize.

That sounds like a policy opportunity conservatives would do well to exploit.

H/T: The Hill

May 15th, 2015 at 10:59 am
Video: Congress’ ObamaCare Fraud
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino demands accountability for the apparent fraud that took place enabling Members of Congress and their staff to circumvent clear rules under ObamaCare in order to keep their taxpayer-subsidized health insurance. 

May 14th, 2015 at 9:54 am
Bipartisan Support Growing to Repeal ObamaCare Medical Device Tax

A group of 18 House Democrats sent a letter recently to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) requesting “timely passage” of a bill to repeal perhaps the most unpopular ObamaCare tax.

The medical device tax levies a 2.3 percent fee on medical devices, and is credited with causing increased prices and a decline in jobs within the manufacturing industry. Much of the Democratic support for repeal comes from members representing states with large device making companies in Minnesota and Indiana.

In a divided Congress, repealing the medical device tax may be the best way demonstrate bipartisan opposition to ObamaCare. Last year, 79 Senators voted to repeal this tax though then Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) refused to bring it to a floor vote. With Republicans in control of the chamber, a vote is likely to occur.

Even if President Barack Obama vetoes the measure – which the White House has promised he will do unless Congress imposes another tax to offset the revenue loss – the mounting pressure to get rid of the medical device tax indicates that there are political victories to be had, if congressional leaders will push for them.

May 14th, 2015 at 7:18 am
Hawaii’s ObamaCare Exchange Out of Money

Add Hawaii to the growing list of states that can’t afford to continue funding their financially unsustainable ObamaCare exchange.

“The state’s exchange is drowning in their own debt and is set to shut down by September 30,” writes Kristina Ribali of the Foundation for Government Accountability. “Administrators had been hoping to get a funding boost from state lawmakers, during their current legislative session, but that will not happen.”

Hawaii’s death spiral became clear in January when the federal government notified the state that it was out of compliance with ObamaCare’s performance benchmarks. By this year state exchanges have to prove their long term financial viability, and their IT systems must be integrated with the Medicaid database. The latter requirement ensures that applicants are correctly channeled to the appropriate government assistance program.

Hawaii – like Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont – isn’t generating enough revenue in enrollment fees to make its exchange solvent. Its failure to integrate IT systems is likely the final blow before the state hands over its exchange function to, the federal counterpart.

Like the other states just mentioned, Hawaii’s ObamaCare exchange failure has been expensive: $204.3 million.

And counting…

May 5th, 2015 at 7:48 pm
Get ObamaCare Out of the Health Insurance Exchange Business

Health insurance exchanges are a great idea – as long as the government isn’t the one running them.

“In a private exchange, an employer can make a defined contribution to a tax-free group plan chosen by the worker,” explains Robert Moffit. “If the worker purchases a less expensive plan, the worker can keep the difference in savings. A worker who wants a more expensive plan can top off the employer’s contribution with her own money.

“In a well-run private exchange, self-insured employers can offer greater flexibility in benefit design, allowing workers and their families choice among a variety of health plans offered by multiple carriers,” Moffit continues. “With cost calculators, plan and provider performance ratings, and easily accessible network and formulary information, workers are suddenly empowered to make well-informed health-care decisions. In the style of 401(k) pensions, the private exchange could emerge as the transformative platform for a revolution in health-care financing.”

Interestingly, enrollment in private health insurance exchanges is now at 6 million – double what it was in 2014. That’s almost equal to the 7+ million currently enrolled through, the federal ObamaCare exchange.

One way to move health insurance reform away from the top-down, government-run model of ObamaCare would be to grant vouchers to individuals and families that don’t get coverage from an employer. Government could then go back to what it does best – giving out money – while letting the private sector do its job – delivering services at an affordable price while still making a profit.

Best of all: Almost 20 fewer government bureaucracies.

May 4th, 2015 at 7:59 pm
ObamaCare Exchanges Are Losing Money

The reason 35 states chose not to build a local ObamaCare exchange – even though the federal government made billions of dollars available to do so – is pretty simple: After an initial burst of funding the a state must foot the bill to maintain it.

That’s turning out to be a very costly proposition.

Consider Oregon.

“The case of Oregon is the most extreme,” explains an editorial in the Washington Examiner. “After spending $200 million to develop its own health insurance exchange, the Beaver State was forced to abandon it altogether because of pervasive and intractable technical problems.”

It gets worse.

“Tiny Vermont spent roughly $4,000 for every uninsured Vermonter to develop its exchange – more than enough to buy a pre-ObamaCare policy for everyone for an entire year,” says the editorial. “And yet after spending so much, the Green Mountain State may soon follow Oregon’s lead in abandoning its creation. Minnesota faces a similar situation.”

Recall that ObamaCare’s upfront establishment grant money was designed to make it seem like the controversial health law didn’t add to the federal deficit by enticing states to take on the legacy costs of operating the exchanges. With becoming the de facto nationwide ObamaCare exchange, that gamble has backfired, but not before wasting lots of taxpayer money.

April 29th, 2015 at 5:58 pm
IG Warning: States May be Illegally Using ObamaCare Grants

At least 37 states have received a total of $4.8 billion to implement ObamaCare, but under the terms of the “establishment grants” those monies cannot be used to pay for overhead costs like rent, software maintenance, staffing and utilities.

That hasn’t stopped some states from trying, apparently.

“We have concerns that, without more detailed guidance from [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid], [State-based ObamaCare exchanges] might have used, and might continue to use, establishment grant funds for operating expenses after January 1, 2015, contrary to law,” writes the Inspector General at the Health and Human Services Department.

“In media reports and during our review of [states’] budget information, we have observed that some [states] face uncertain operating revenues in 2015 and future years. Because operating revenues are uncertain, there is a risk that [states] might use establishment grant funds to cover operational expenses,” warns the IG’s letter.

The IG points to evidence that the Rhode Island exchange does not have a dedicated funding source, and the Washington exchange is short $125 million unless the state legislature steps in.

In other words, ObamaCare gave seed money to start expensive new state agencies that are now supposed to be self-sustaining. At least two are not, and the tone of the IG’s letter implies that many more are suspect.

If an enterprising conservative committee chairman wants to protect taxpayers while exposing one of the failures of ObamaCare, following up on the IG’s warning letter with a detailed investigation would be a good strategy.

H/T: The Hill

April 28th, 2015 at 7:37 pm
On Entitlement Reform, Are Republicans All in This Together?

Recent statements by likely GOP presidential candidates indicate the answer may be no.

“Republican governors across the country, including several conservatives, couldn’t resist the siren song of federal dollars and chose to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare,” writes Stephen F. Hayes at The Weekly Standard. “The federal government promises to fully fund Medicaid expansion for three years, after which the federal dollars are phased out and states will be responsible for paying for the expanded program themselves.”

Those governors include John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey. Both argue they made the best of a bad policy situation. Former governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas could also be added to the mix, since he has recently distanced himself from Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s entitlement reform package ahead of an anticipated presidential bid.

After three years of party unity – broadly speaking – on entitlement reform, Republican leaders seem to be charting different paths on how to tackle the issue. This can and should be a healthy exercise in deliberation and persuasion, precisely the kind of policy-centric debate so necessary in the primaries.

That is, if the conversation stays on topic. Kasich, for example, has already shown a willingness to demonize critics instead of responding with a better argument. To wit, when health policy expert Avik Roy asked Kasich how he could be against ObamaCare’s “top-down government” but support Medicaid’s version of the same, Kasich retorted, “Maybe you think we should put them [the poor] in prison. I don’t.”

Hillary Clinton’s attack machine couldn’t have said it better. For the good of the conservative movement, Kasich and the rest of the presumptive GOP presidential field should.

April 22nd, 2015 at 5:57 pm
What Will Republicans Do If Supreme Court Strikes Down ObamaCare Subsidies?

Sometime in June, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to publish its opinion deciding whether the Obama administration acted outside the law in extending federal subsidies to citizens in states without a local ObamaCare exchange.

If the Court’s ruling adheres to the rule of law, the subsidies will be disallowed. Predictably, this is making some Republicans nervous that Americans getting the ObamaCare the Democrats passed will blame the GOP.

And so, there are a growing number of proposals to overrule the Court, at least until 2017 when (hopefully) a Republican president will be in office.

The latest plan in this line of thinking was unveiled Tuesday by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI). “Johnson’s plan would allow people to keep their ObamaCare plans and their subsidies until August 2017,” reports The Hill. “The bill would also repeal ObamaCare’s mandates for individuals and employers to provide insurance…”

Of the proposals currently available, Johnson’s is the only one that makes no change to ObamaCare as it currently is. All it does is ensure the program lasts until about eight months into the next president’s first year in office.

The question is: What’s the point? If Johnson’s bill were to become law, it would put large numbers of Republicans on record as saying that despite the plain meaning of the statute, ObamaCare’s subsidy scheme is simply too important to be governed by normal legal rules. If that’s true, then why not make things easier and introduce a bill that just amends the disputed section and grant subsidies to everyone?

If Senator Johnson and other Republicans are fearful of voter backlash, then he and others should propose specific policy alternatives. Overruling the Supreme Court for making the correct legal decision is not justified by political calculations of what might happen at the ballot box.

Voters deserve statesmen, not politicians that hedge their bets. If Senator Johnson wants to be reelected next year, he needs to earn the privilege by either embracing ObamaCare for the long-term or putting forward a specific alternative.

April 10th, 2015 at 2:57 pm
Beware ObamaCare as Tax Day Approaches

Nearly every American that received an ObamaCare subsidy to help pay for health insurance last year got the wrong amount.

“Only 4 percent of the people who signed up for ObamaCare got the correct subsidy, so a whopping 96 percent will see their tax bill adjusted, some up and others down,” writes Betsy McCaughey. “Who would design a system that’s right only 4 percent of the time?”

The main reason for the discrepancy is that a person must estimate – i.e. guess – their entire taxable income for the next year in order to find out how much of a subsidy they qualify for under ObamaCare during enrollment season. A raise or switch to a higher paying job could be zeroed out because the government gets to “clawback” the difference. Losing a job means a fatter refund.

You can see which direction ObamaCare’s incentives point to, which provides a partial answer to McCaughey’s rhetorical question – people who penalize moving up the income ladder.

April 6th, 2015 at 7:25 pm
Tax Filing Deadline Extended 6 Months for 800,000 ObamaCare Users

If you are one of the estimated 800,000 Americans who purchased an ObamaCare-compliant health insurance policy for the 2014 enrollment year through – the federal exchange portal – and received the wrong tax reporting form, you now have until October 15 to file your taxes.

The Treasury Department announcement came last Friday, less than two weeks before the traditional tax filing deadline.

Credit where it’s due – this is the right call by the Obama Administration since it was the government – not taxpayers – that fouled up the process by mailing error-laden reporting forms. The six month extension relieves the pressure on taxpayers and their accountants and hopefully gives the bureaucracy enough time to fix the problem.

Nevertheless, like all of the other unilateral delays and waivers granted under ObamaCare, this development is yet another indication that the federal government bit off more than it can chew and the number one casualty is the rule of law.

April 2nd, 2015 at 5:58 pm
ObamaCare’s Subsidy “Clawback” Feature Explained

Daniel Payne at The Federalist has a must-read article explaining the perverse and punitive feature of ObamaCare that allows the federal government to “clawback” subsidy amounts from eligible recipients.

“If you’re flat broke at the beginning of the year and accept tax credits from ObamaCare for several months, then find a high-paying job with health insurance halfway through the year and make enough money to put yourself over the subsidy threshold, you’ll owe back every penny of those subsidies you received come tax season, even though you had no money when you received them,” writes Payne.

ObamaCare’s critics have warned that the law would discourage people from getting better paying jobs for fear of losing their health insurance subsidy. In practice, it looks like the penalty on work could be even worse.

April 1st, 2015 at 6:01 pm
Reuters Runs Hit Job on Anti-ObamaCare GOP Governors

Today, Reuters ran the following headline claiming that Republican governors opposed to ObamaCare are really just a bunch of hypocrites: “Exclusive: Republican White House hopefuls attack Obamacare but take money”.

The evidence offered is a combined $352 million in federal grants that GOP governors Rick Perry (TX), Scott Walker (WI), Bobby Jindal (LA), and Chris Christie (NJ) applied for and won under the terms of ObamaCare. Lest any reader miss the theme of the article, the author writes, “Aides [to each governor] told Reuters they saw no contradiction in applying for these grants while criticizing the law as a whole.”

The aides – and by extension, the governors – are absolutely correct. According to the Reuters report, many of the grant programs predate the passage of ObamaCare, and the ones that originated with the controversial health care law are not connected to either the excessively expensive health insurance exchanges or the Medicaid expansion – the two policy devices loathed by fiscal conservatives. As a matter of policy then, there is nothing inconsistent about wanting to repeal a law to get rid of its bad elements while supporting parts that have no connection to them.

As if to walk back from its misleading headline, the Reuters piece says that “It’s not clear whether the Republican governors now considering running for the White House would protect these programs if they won the November 2016 presidential election.” Except that it is clear. So far, none of these governors have indicated that in repealing ObamaCare they would refuse to reinstate the non-controversial grant programs. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that these programs are safe.

Attention-grabbing headlines are necessary in the news business, but only if they’re true. The next time Reuters wants to ding GOP politicians for hypocrisy, it needs to bring much better evidence than this.

March 30th, 2015 at 7:23 pm
Supreme Court Declines Challenge to ObamaCare’s IPAB

The Obama administration got a rare piece of good news today when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding part of ObamaCare.

The case, Coons v. Lew, is an Arizona-based challenge to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the 15-member group of experts empowered to reduce Medicare spending below a certain threshold.

In declining the plaintiffs’ appeal, the Supremes did not in any way indicate that this case is without merit. Rather, it may have been filed too early. Courts are typically loathe to strike down parts of laws that have yet to go into effect. IPAB won’t be making any decisions until 2019 at the earliest.

As usual, the issue is whether IPAB is constitutional. “Its decisions cannot be overridden by Congress without a super-majority and cannot be challenged in court,” explains a report in Politico. If that sounds like near monarchial power for an unelected bunch of experts, well, this is the Obama administration after all.

For now, IPAB is a dormant legal issue. Time will tell if it becomes a political rallying cry in next year’s presidential election.